Paul’s Caul – Bexhill catch-ups and a cracking roasted cauliflower, chorizo and black pudding salad

cauliflower, chickpea, chorizo salad
Bexhill catch-ups 2016

For all those playing at home, I don’t have red hair and a beard and I’m not G-bags Mcfilthy mouth… no, I am not the father of this blog, I’m perhaps best described as this blogs estranged brother that likes to drop by unannounced and expects every thing that’s great about writing a blog whilst having no responsibility at all… yes that is me in a delicious nut shell, I’m simply a man called Paul who has a shit load to say about food and anything even slightly related to it, like travel, drinking and eating of said food.

I’m a chef that has been cooking for over 20 years all over the place and I have been extremely fortunate to have known G-bags for all of that time. We share a love of food, swearing and most importantly telling the whole fucking world about it, so a blog seemed inevitable. I’m honoured he allows my scribbling’s to be part of foodisthebestshitever and I hope you enjoy them just as much as we love bacon, but lets face it that’s asking quite a lot. Paul – Paul’s Caul

Nothing much excites me as much as a good old fashioned cook up, add to this equation one of my best mates and his awesome family a location in the majestic hinterlands of NSW, and what you have is a formula for some effing good times. So with many weeks of anticipation building and dreams of roasting pork on an open fire pit whilst laughing so hard your cheeks hurt (not in a keep dropping the soap kinda way). The day finally arrived for Lauren and I to visit the Stockdale’s in Bexhill and we were rife with excitement. What’s more we weren’t alone in this feeling, word had gotten to me via many forms of modern tech that the Stockdale’s had some come down with a bad case of happiness anticipation, only known cure was a full dose of us.

We arrived at ‘Bangalow Bowlo’, home of ‘The Stockpot Kitchen’ thanks to lift from Lauren’s brother in law Marty, and after a awkward start of me introducing myself to a complete stranger thinking he was someone of importance in the Bowlo (he was literally a nobody) I spotted a large bearded man discussing a large hole that had just been dug. Now the scene did make me think of numerous gangster movies where all we needed was some lime and a few dead bodies, but with that aside I realised said bearded man was in fact my dear friend ‘G-bags Mcfilthy Mouth’ and the hole was soon to be a new fire pit with spit. It goes without saying that the following embrace and greetings all round were nothing short of magical. Graeme gave a brief tour of his kitchen and we headed off to see his beautiful wife Jen, she was playing soccer so we picked up his boys Seba and obi, before heading back to their home to kick off festivities.

Pork belly over the coals is always a good idea... especially when in the company of charred prawns and green papaya salad with nam jim
Pork belly over the coals is always a good idea… especially when in the company of charred prawns and green papaya salad with nam jim

Let me clarify exactly what festivities means on this particular occasion, for us it always seems to start by hitting up the bottle shop, Graeme’s drink of choice was a carton of Coopers ale and for us it was a bottle of gin. Next it doesn’t matter what you have planned as all that will ever happen is we get really drunk, laugh heaps, eat heaps and somehow (and we literally have no idea how this happens) cook dinner. The day panned out exactly like that finishing with a mouth watering piece of Pork belly accompanied by green papaya salad and some BBQ’ed prawns for good measure.

What makes meals at Casa Stockdale always exponentially better than your average cook up is the wealth of produce produced right there, whether it be from their papaya tree or herbs from garden or pig meat from their local farmer. It truly is a chef’s playground and boy do I like to play in this place, Graeme seems to always bring out the best in me, we wax lyrically about food and before you know it we are conjuring ideas in our heads that excites the bejusus out of us. We scurry off to the shops to source what’s needed in said creations, whilst never loosing sight of the alcohol that is required in such a process.

Nam jim cam
Nam jim cam

Day two kicks off with breakfast out at a new fancy Eco resort in Byron Bay, and quite frankly it was exactly like any other breakfast in fancy Eco resort (or as I like to say Ego resort) anywhere in the world, but the company was banging and the coffee was good so never a bad start to a day. Whilst driving home doughnuts some how appeared in a bag in our hands, then as quickly as they appeared they mysteriously vanished, leaving nothing but a cheeky smile on Laurens face as evidence that this did just happen. It was most likely the guilt of this occurrence that spurred on the idea of going for a quick run before the day once again got away from us. Unfortunately this run did nothing other than turn my ankle into an orb so large it had its own gravity, so all of a sudden I was out of action and had to call upon my sous chef extraordinaire… Lauren ’got mad prep skills’ Alley.

With a vantage point on the veranda and well lubricated by alcohol mixed with painkillers I instructed my sous chef step by step how to create a salad worthy of the Stockdale’s table. This couldn’t be any normal salad I felt it needed balls. If in fact it were a human it wouldn’t just have balls it would most likely have a big fuck moustache and cut wood down with its bare hands all whilst smelling like oak and freshly cut grass. Layers is what we needed, components and layers, flavour building bricks so impressive it would house all three little pigs and that hungry wolf would have to find another avenue to appease his swine cravings.

Lauren's mis en place was more like mis en place plus
Lauren’s mis en place was more like mis en place plus

Lauren’s prepping over the next few hours was nothing short of impeccable, never missed a beat and when I saw how neat her prep station was at the end I nearly cried. Everything cauliflower floret perfectly cut and cooked, black pudding blended and fried until it looked like crispy black gold dust, ginger yoghurt seasoned with a chef’s touch and all this whilst making me Gin and tonics every 40 minutes. If I hadn’t already proposed to this amazing lady, this day was enough to get me over the edge, in fact I should of proposed by asking her to be my sous chef in life, but alas I missed out on perhaps the corniest thing I could possibly of said. But lets face it we all know there will be many more ridiculous things I will say to this very special lady, so no point worrying about lost moments in time, back to layering of metaphorical flavour bricks.

This particular salad was a great example of my theory of what makes a good dish, basically because every one of the numerous ingredients was treated differently. If you were to grab all of the ingredients and toss in some oil, season and roast then whack in a bowl with some yoghurt and ginger, I’m sure it would of tasted nice… Nice! Who the fuck is happy with nice? Not me that’s for sure and certainly not while cooking at Casa Stockdale… nice is a jumper you get for Christmas, nice is someone letting in a lane whilst driving, nice is having enough water left in a kettle to make a cuppa… I hope with all of my heart that nice is not a word used to describe my food.

Black pudding getting the love it deserves
Black pudding getting the love it deserves

So when trying to achieve food better than nice a little respect for the produce is all that’s needed, I want you to think about exciting the produce, making it happy to give its life for a cause of such magnitude that they literally jump into the pot kamikaze style. Ask your Spanish onion out on a date and whilst you gaze into his eyes chop him up and whack him in a pickling liquid and don’t just use vinegar and sugar like some sort of pickling gypsy with the imagination of a blind mole with no legs. Fill the pickling liquid with many flavours as only remnants of this flavour every make it to people mouths, the love you put in is for the onion (or whatever you are pickling) if the onion is happy, this happiness will rub off on other ingredients and people can taste happiness… this is a fact!

Food is a lot like people, if you treat everyone the same and never see people for what they are and what they are best for, then you will not get the best from people. Same with food, yes I want to roast both cauliflower and chickpeas but they will not roast together evenly and I reckon the cauliflower will pick on the chickpeas not allowing them crisp to their full potential. So I separate them like naughty school kids and low and behold they behave. Then I come to wanting to add some sausage to this many-layered beast, and I look at the chorizo and black pudding that I have plucked from the depths of ‘The Stockpot Kitchen’ cool room and I think to my self I want your flavour but don’t really want massive chunks of sausage kicking back in the salad. As the black pudding had already been smoked in ‘Thomas the meat engine” I decided to blend it up into a chunky crumb and fry it until crispy, and the chorizo was raw so we removed the skin and rolled into small meatballs and fried also… this is a huge part of my dish creation process, changing produces size and shape changes its flavour and ways you can incorporate it into dishes.

So we have now wined and dined our produce and basically showed them all a great time on their last day on this sweet earth, so its now time for them to shine in the final hoorah… Lauren now only had to build the beast and with 10 plus delicious ingredients this was extremely easy, like everything she touched this day it turned to gold and her job had come to an end. Graeme in the meantime had been busy roasting ribs on the fire pit along with potatoes, carrots and onions… but don’t for a second think you can even imagine how good these vegetables tasted after being roasted in foil on the ashes, they rose like the proverbial phoenix onto the table freshly drizzled with olive oil, salt and many herbs.

Pork ribs and coal roasted vegetables are good times
Pork ribs and coal roasted vegetables are good times

So the table was set, by whom I have no idea as by now I was completely off my tits, thanks to my consumption of many different painkilling remedies. By now our good friend and word witch Gitana had joined the festivities, so we sat and gazed at the wonders that lay before us and regaled each other with the highs and lows of the day just gone. I couldn’t help but think how god damn lucky we are to be able to share the love of food with people that mean so much to us. Supposedly that beautiful notion was all in my head, as I was so far gone I just sat there and spoke gibberish whilst swearing heaps in front of the kids. But I like to think that it’s all about what you recall the next day more than what actually happens that counts.

Day three was the day Lauren and I got to finally eat at ‘The Stockpot Kitchen’ and my god was it worth the wait. Not one thing we tried was anything but amazing, flavours that pack a punch and combinations chefs can only dream of creating. Graeme’s love for food has been an incredible journey that I have had the privilege of watching happen, but sitting in his and Jen’s restaurant that night made me as happy as I can remember being. Thank you brother for your continued inspiration and friendship.

Salady highlights. This little bad boy is definitely worth a bash
Salady highlights. This little bad boy is definitely worth a bash

CAULIFLOWER, CHORIZO & BLACK PUDDING SALAD

I’ve explained this salad in the many layers used to build it… nothing is hard to do so I’ve left the explanation simple ☺

Basically get all of this ready and build in the order below.

• Ginger yoghurt- grated a little ginger into yoghurt and season

• Rocket

• Beetroot dressed with pickled onions (explanation underneath)

• Black pudding, crumbled and fried

• Chorizo balled and fried

• Brussel leaves blanched and refreshed ice-cold water.

• Cauliflower florets, olive oil, salt, baked in the oven until crispy

• Chickpeas drained, washed with oil, salt, curry powder, Gary my sailor, baked for longer until crispy

• Shaved fennel, half lemon and generous pinch salt

• Spring onion & coriander fresh & chopped.

*Pickled onions – apple cider vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, love, bay leaves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dried chilli or flakes. Few hours.

*Beetroots – Rosemary, garlic, orange simmer until tender. Skinned. Cut into halves & 4-6 wedges each half.

*ADD PICKLED ONION TO BEETS TO DRESS BEFORE ADDING TO FINAL SALAD.

This is Jelly the dog
This is Jelly the dog

Pork Shoulder Roast with Brussels Sprouts and Apples… while you’re out doing cool shit

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Don’t worry, I am still alive… albeit just barely.

It’s been a hell of a couple of weeks in my world, as we have opened a restaurant. That’s right, our very own restaurant. So fucking exciting for us but oh how our lives have been turned a little sideways. I do know this was our choice and our doing so it is nothing I am complaining about, I am merely trying to give you an insight as to where I’ve been and let my Blogland friends know I still love you all. But just like the rest of my friends in the close and touchable world around me you will need to deal with my lack of attention and bare with me for a bit until my life settles back into some kind of routine that won’t be deemed total chaos… or there is of course the other option; you can hate me for ever, unfriend me, unfollow me and tell people that I’m shit, which is also totally fine by me ☺

Seriously my time at the moment is like the chocolate cake to the fat (possibly should read “weight challenged” if I cared) kid; there one minute and totally non existent the next.

So here is a dinner I cooked yesterday for our first day off as a family in a few weeks. This is something that works for me right now; so simple and soooo damn good. I put it in the oven in the morning when we left the house and it was ready when we returned hours later. I just needed to cook a few sides, open a bottle of wine or maybe two and then feed my face until it begged me to stop… I love it when my face begs me to stop…

#easytastygood just for you.

Out of the oven...
Out of the oven…

And ready to get into my belly. One bottle of wine would quite possibly have been enough but... well... nothing really. We just had two!
And ready to get into my belly. One bottle of wine would quite possibly have been enough but… well… nothing really. We just had two!

ROASTED PORK SHOULDER with FENNEL SEED, APPLES AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1 pork shoulder, 4kg is enough for our family and another
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
Salt and pepper
500g Brussels sprouts, halved
500g green apples, quartered and cored
2 brown onions, sliced kinda big
A splash of apple cider vinegar
Salsa verde to serve

• Put the pork shoulder into a baking dish. Rub it with fennel seeds and a good hit of salt and pepper
• Whack it into the oven at 100C and get the eff outta dodge. Go and do some really cool shit with your fam for the day. Seriously, this bad boy is going to be loving life for a good 7 hours
• When you return 7 hours later you can bring the pork out of the oven and admire what it has become
• Place the vegetables in another baking tray. Moisten with a cup of the roasting juices from the pork and the apple cider vinegar, season, whack it in the oven and turn up the heat to 200C
• After 15 minutes the vegetables should be close to done. Give them a bit of a toss and send them back to the chambers of the furnace for another five minutes
• Return the pork to the oven too, just to give that crackling a working over. This make take up to 10 minutes but persevere, it will be worth it (if your oven has a top heat/grill/broiler function you can use this to really get the crackle going)
• Carve the pork and serve it with salsa verde, the Brussels and apples, and any other sides you fancy… and beer or wine… or even beer and wine also does the trick

For any one keen to follow our exploits try The Stockpot Kitchen on facey or insta

The Sunday Sesh… with my old mate Toodles

This is a little suggestion for your next Sunday roast typed by the hand of my old friend, confidant and peer (Peer? What an ass spank of a word. Who the fuck created that word anyway? It sounds like a word that should be reserved for exclusive use by the royal family… although I guess they wouldn’t have much cause to use it. What, with not having much of a peer group and all), Todd. Or has we know him, Toodles.

I was working in kitchens with this lad when he was a wee pup and very quickly he stepped up and proved he could cock his leg and piss like a big dog, and is now rocking the restaurant scene in Sydney Australia.

I know full well that this is most likely gracing the eyes in your head a little too late to affect anything you may being today, but shit happens and you should try and get over it quickly.

Grazza

SUNDAY SESH

Who says being able to cook good is a bad thing. Probably no one ever, actually. But, any way, I feel like a roast. It’s a Sunday. End of a massive week & I feel like getting this shit started. Enough reason for me.

Personally, I don’t drink cider because I just don’t see the point in drinking cider when there is beer??? So when the Mrs leaves cider in the fridge for 6 months I decide to find it a home.

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Apples roasted with muscovado sugar & cider.

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What goes great with a pork roast? More pork of course.

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Roast is almost ready….

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Pork roast, brussels sprouts with bacon, roast pumpkin, onions, truss tomatoes, roasted apples & gravy baby. Sounds terrible, hey?

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Some Turkish delight from my mates at Christopher’s Cake Shop for dessert and I’m done. I’m as happy as a pig in a pile of mud.

Happy Sunday people.

#foodisthebestshitever

Cheeses Loves You…

This is an ode to my friends and local cheese peddlers at Cheese Please. Di, Pob and Keejay, cheeses really does love you.

 

As with a good woman, one cheese is never enough. Two is good, three even better and four… well four is four. And they both start to smell the longer you leave them in the cupboard too…

 

I’ll leave it at that as I know for a fact feminist hate mail is one of the worst kinds to receive. Actually I would have to say airhead hippy feminist hate mail would be even worse than that.

 

I hear you say I am digressing again…

 

You hear me say “my blog, my rules, I’ll do what I want”

 

You think what a spoilt little silver spoon mutha effer I must be.

 

I say…

 

Wait. Am I having a dialogue with myself? I do believe I am. Jolly good then. Let’s get on with the show. Queue dancing girls…

 

 

Getting your pickle on, and getting your pickle off.

 

Although the opening sentence or title of this chapter on making pickles may seem slightly evocative, I’m not sure where I was going to go with it. So I tell you what. You make up something really funny in your head and then tell yourself it was me so it seems like I’m the funny one. OK? Cool.

 

Cheese is an easily encouragable main course at our place so I find myself constantly working on side dishes that justify to myself that I am feeding my family nutritiously with the consumption of what is essentially cheese and bread for dinner.

 

And apart from the obvious nutritional value of said side dishes it also means you receive necessary roughage. Which means you get to do a poo the next day, and we all know how important and exciting having a poo is. This is a good thing for your bottom, or anus, to do as it makes room for you to consume more food, and as Jesus said, we need food to live (he did recommend bread and fish but we’re sticking to the bread and cheese thing for now).

 

If you don’t have any cheese in the place where you keep your cheese, then you should build a spaceship in your backyard (probably make it a pretty small one so not to draw attention to yourself) and take a trip to the moon because we all know the moon is made of cheese, and it’s free. Of course you just have to pay for the outer-space rocket fuel but I’m sure it couldn’t be much more expensive then your weekly crack bill. And that reminds me, don’t forget the crackers…

 

Eggplant pickle

1 large or 2 medium eggplant, cut into 5-10 mm discs and then sliced to make batons

salt

1 brown onion, sliced

3 Tbls castor sugar

3 Tbls red wine vinegar

a glass of something red, and make sure there’s some (or a lot) port for later, and while you’re at it turn your phone to silent so there’s no interruptions. PS the booze is all for you

  • Sprinkle the eggplant with a teaspoon of salt an let it sit for 15 minutes while you prep your other salads
  • Sauté the eggplant and onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 10-15 minutes. You want to get a bit of colour on it, and it’s not a biggie if it starts to stick. That just means it’s time to get the other ingredients in
  • Add the sugar and vinegar and cook out on a medium heat for another 5 minutes, or until caramelised and syrup-y

 

 

Beetroot dressed with yoghurt, lemon juice and sumac

  • It is what it says right there. Use your smarts for this one and add seasoning too
  • Actually I just realised I should probably explain that you should cook the beetroot or used tinned baby beetroot. To cook your beetroot wrap them in foil with a splash of balsamic and roast them in a medium oven (or the coals of a fire) for 45minutes to 1 hour. Peel them and cut into segments for the salad

 

Lentils, spring onion, rocket and tomato

1 tin French/green lentils

1 tomato, chopped

1 handful of rocket or parsley from the garden

2-3 spring onions, sliced

  • Combine all salad ingredients
  • Dress salad with fresh thyme, red wine vinegar, olive oil and seasoning

 

Sautéed Brussels sprouts with bacon and apple

  • Sauté that stuff in a tablespoon of butter and season with some salt and pepper. Keep a bit of firmness in the Brussels. Mmmmmmmm…

Coq au vin blanc

Yeah you can do it with white wine too. Genius. Make an old chicken your bitch. The French have been doing it for years. Not like that though… well, maybe just in the country.

You can see all the stuff that went into this except a bottle, or lets face it, half a 2 liter goon sack of white wine, and a tin of tomatoes. But they were definitely in there. Trust me. Baha… bahahahahahahahahabaha…

Chicken, bacon, onions, mushroom, garlic, bouquet garni, a lemon.

A bouquet garni looks something like this.

And nothing at all like this.

Right about this stage I am more than happy to just eat the fried bacon, onions and mushrooms. Damn they smell good. But instead I push through the smell barrier, and continue with this dish that will not be bacon, onions and mushrooms on toast, it will be COQ AU VIN BLANC.

Put the wine and tomatoes in now. Don’t be afraid to chuck a tin of lentils or cannellini bean in either. I would’ve, but for me it’s one of those days that I just don’t have any of the things I should have in my larder. Don’t judge me… c’mon, let’s get over this. Simmer over low heat or put it in the oven for 1hr at 160C. I like the little caramelised bits that come from baking it in the oven…

And now for some sides…

Crushed potatoes with cheese. A type of aligot. Traditionally a potato purée containing up to half it’s weight of Tomme cheese. The French invented it. Do I need to say more? No, that’s right, make potatoes your bitch too.

Pan fry cauliflower with olive oil, whole garlic, a tablespoon of cumin seeds and a handful of chopped bread AKA. Croutons. Then finish it with a handful of chopped parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and a heap of salt and pepper. What? Don’t like cauliflower. Well eff you… You’re gonna love the next side dish. Just try it damn you. Damn you.

Pan fry the Brussels sprouts with some bacon or ham, and a heap of butter and salt and pepper. Just for five or six minutes so they’re still a little al dente (you know what that means by now, yes?). Eat it damn you.

Have you invited hooligans over yet? Well… get on the phone. You got a phone don’t you? I’ll try Mark and Kate (always good for a chat about the ol’ days, current affairs and the odd bottle of red), AJ (duck farmer, has an opinion on everything, likes a good debate and peroni beer) and, of course, my lovely wife Jen (tormentor of my mind, antagonist of Aj, and all round top bird). Done. I’m ready to eat.

Man if I was a dog right now I would be licking my balls in shear delight. Brilliant. Brilliant.

Mark and Kate left rosey cheeked (could have been the near Arctic temperature, could have been the wine…) and satiated, as did AJ. Well actually AJ stayed in the guest room. He’s learnt how to make the bed very well though, so he’s welcome anytime. You got me, another lie. He can stay once a week. Twice tops.