2013 in GarysKitchen

2013 wasn’t a prolific year for blogging but the chaps at wordpress do prepare a nice little report showing this years stats.

Click here to see the complete report.

Interesting that many people found my blog searching for Duncan Norvelle – WTF?????


A Walter ‘White’ Christmas 2013

This year GarysKitchen decided to honour the best TV show ever and have a Breaking Bad themed Christmas meal.

Trying to link each course to a Breaking Bad theme or episode took some doing, but thanks to the power of the internet the Walter ‘White’ Christmas meal was developed.

Breaking Bad Menu

Breaking Bad1 MenuBut before I get onto the actual meal, a special mention should go to the providers of the ingredients.

Firstly to the Little Black Pig who provided the main event of a Norfolk Black Turkey and other wonderful meats.

A special thank you goes to Kate from the Little Black Pig who personally delivered the turkey on Monday 23 December, which if people recall saw severe winds hit the UK with chaos on the roads.

But after hours on the road, Kate delivered the box of goodies

Christmas meat

The turkey

With all ingredients ready the marathon cook started on Christmas eve and the Breaking Bad menu started to come together.

The opener saw us say ‘Salud’ and celebrate episode 10 of Season 4 with a glass of Zafiro Anejo with each glass topped with sky blue crystal meth.

Zafira Anejo

This little liverner kicked off proceedings nicely and everyone settled down to enjoy an amuse bouche of a tomato consomme shot with a mozzarella pearl.  This celebrated the pink teddy bear eyeball seen floating in Walt’s pool in episode 1 of season 3.

The lab effect was improved by some nifty glass measuring beakers bought by son of Garyskitchen – seen in the photo below.

tomato consomme

The amuse bouche was followed by a meat starter of mini Heisenbergers.  I love this play on words but can not take the credit for this as Heisenbergers are awash on the internet. Our mini Heisenbergers were Dexter beef in home baked mini rolls, with sky blue cheese and pink onions (again referencing the pink teddy bear).

Accompanying the Heisenbergers were a selection of madrigal dipping sauces from Season 5, episode 2.

HeisenbergerNext came Gustavo Fring’s Chillean fish stew which I found out was called Paila Marina.

This course celebrated the legend that was Gus Fring and the fish stew he cooks for Walt in Season 3, Episode 11.

Fish stew vegPMNow to the main event and the turkey.  For this I made another play on words and instead of us having Los Pollos Hermanos (The Chicken Brothers) we had Los Pavos Hermanos (The Turkey Brothers).

Now by this stage the party was in full swing and we did not take any photo’s of the bird but we did manage one photo of a full plate – although I think it looks pretty horrible.

Turkey dinnerThe eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted some butternut squash on the plate. This deserves a special mention as this is the homegrown butternut squash from my Mystery Plant and it was very tasty too.

mystery plant

After the main event we were flagging but we all managed to move on to the dessert which was in honour of Gale Boettichers coffee brewing as seen in Season 3, so a light dessert of Cafe Glaze, with a cookie referencing Saul Goodmans  classic quote of referencing his secretary Franchesca as HT and a light sprinkling of contaminated Chilli P, from Jesse’s signature cook.

contaminated batch

gales coffee

GarysKitchen also did a Black Forest Gateaux.  I have no idea why but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

BFG We then moved onto the cheese board, which had no real link to Breaking Bad

Cheese boardThe meal was washed down with a nice cold Schraderbrau to celebrate ASAC Hank Schrader and you can go **** yourself. Each Schraderbrau had a little added twist of Methylamine.



After four hours of feasting, we all needed a little pick me up and thanks to Walt we weren’t let down.

Sky blue

And even Skylar made it an A One Day

A 1 Day

Christmas 2013 – Homemade Cold Smoked Salmon

2013 has been a quiet year for blogging in GarysKitchen, and I have pretty much failed in adding content regularly but here’s a final hurrah with GarysKitchen countdown to Christmas 2013.

Compared to previous Christmases this years is going to be a simpler affair.  I am not going for the curing marathon that was 2011, or the faff of making my own Christmas Pudding, or even the anti supermarket feast that was 2012 (although there are some similarities).

Yes Christmas 2013 is going to be a simpler, slightly less extravagant and more stress free Christmas.

The menu is already designed, but will only be unveiled on the day, with each course being simple to prepare but hopefully very tasty.

As per last year I’ve ordered my turkey and other pork products from The Little Black Pig but I haven’t yet received it yet.

My fish has again come from Adam via ebay and his Brixham Seafood store.  This arrived on Wednesday and contained a whole side of salmon, a huge turbot, two giant skate wings, a couple of dover soles and fresh crab meat.

My vegetables were again bought from Rayleigh fruit and veg and I have also ordered some cream and eggs from my milk man.

My cheese and cured meats have come via Barcelona thanks to Sean and via Wales, via Rayleigh Market thanks to my Mum.

So as you can see there are some similarities to last years ASM Christmas.

So on with the preparations and this year I have decided to forgo the hugely successful Christmas Gravadlax, which by the way still comes in at fourth in a google search, for a homemade cold smoked salmon instead.

Readers will know that I love a bit of Heath Robinson style DIY cooking and I was inspired by Tim Haywards video on how to make smoked salmon at home via the use of a soldering iron.

I have adapted it slightly but the soldering iron principals remain the same.

So first cure your side of salmon – you can follow my gravadlax recipe here but only cure it for 12 hours and after you have cured wash off the cure mixture and leave it uncovered overnight in a fridge to form a pellicle.

For those of you who are interested, a pellicle is a skin or coating of proteins on the surface of meatfish or poultry, which allow smoke to better adhere the surface of the meat during the smoking process. Useful in all smoking applications and with any kind of animal protein, it is best used with fish where the flesh of, say, Salmon, forms a pellicle, the surface that will attract more smoke to adhere to it than would be the case if you had not used it. Without a pellicle; the fish would be inedibly dry from enough smoking to produce a tasty finished product. It is the pellicle which permits the transformation creating delectable Smoked salmon.

Here is my salmon already cured and pellicled.

cured side of salmon

I also added a slab of cheddar for some smoked cheese

Home smoked cheese too

Then make up your soldering iron smoker.

First get a soldering iron – £4.99 from ebid

My soldering iron

Then get an empty baked bean can and make a hole in the side at the bottom

Baked bean can

Then stick your soldering iron in the side

Ready to smoke

Half fill it with wood chips and this is where I differed from Tim as I put it in my barbeque

In the bbq

Plug it in and watch that baby smoke.

See the smoke?

To keep the smoke in and to stop the rain getting in, I covered my barbecue

All tucked in

Then leave it for about 5 hours for the cheese and 12 hours for the salmon.

Now here’s a tip. My curiosity got the better of me so I checked to see how things were smoking and noticed that I needed to top up my wood chips, so it is worth keeping an eye on things.

I regularly checked it and to be honest there wasn’t a lot of smoke being generated but it really did smell smoky and after about 5 hours I checked the cheese and it was done and was well smoky.  Here’s a photo but you need to smell it to appreciate the smokiness, as it hasn’t taken on a lot of colour.

smoked cheese

Its a bit harsh at the moment, although son of GarysKitchen raved about it (notice the corner missing), so I am going to leave it to mellow and take on a softer smoky flavour.

The salmon took a bit longer…. but it was worth the wait.

perfectly smoked salmon

After 12 hours of smoking, and again there didn’t seem to be a lot of smoke produced, the salmon was really smoky and had taken on a really nice colour.

Nice and smoky

It is now tucked away to mellow ready for Christmas.

Perfectly smoked salmon

Quality food on the cheap, as always.

It’s the latest foodie craze – cooking on a budget.

Jamie’s at it with his Money Saving Meals, although spending over £7 on a chicken doesn’t sound money saving to me!

The blogesphere is full of budget chefs The Skint Foodie and a Girl Called Jack are worth a mention.

And then there are the other celebrity chefs jumping on the bandwagon – The really skint Gordon Ramsey is having to cook at home, rather than in one of his 13 UK restaurants – poor old Gordon.

The really annoying Nigel Slater is having to resort to collecting windfalls from his orchard – poor old Nigel.

The really patronising BBC is telling us to bake our own bread or make friends with a butcher!

And finally the really nasty Tories are even telling us to save money by putting on a jumper!

One positive mention though for the moneysaving guru, Martin Lewis who has been giving us decent advice for ages.

So, in the true spirit of togetherness, and hopefully not as patronising, although for those who are really struggling I am sure it is, GarysKitchen is jumping on the bandwagon and here is my recipe for a really cheap, but high quality, three course Sunday lunch.

GarysKitchen menu consists of the following:

Starter – Vegetable Laksa

Main meal – Organic Half Leg of Lamb (totally patronising but you’ll see why) with all the trimmings

Pudding – Apple, Plum and Cherry Crumble with Custard

The total cost for this meal is £14.69 for four people with plenty of leftovers, so £3.67 a head.

I’ve had a go at providing a full cost breakdown and if you check out Jamie’s mothership lamb (no mention of starter or pudding) at over £15, you’ll see that I have beat him hands down.

So how did GarysKitchen manage this money saving feat?

here goes with my budget starter of Vegetable Laksa.

One Malay Taste Laksa kit – Free.  Now this was because they were doing a cashback offer and I got the kit absolutely gratis.

Some chopped vegetables – red pepper, green pepper, mushroom, red onion, pumpkin.

So a starter for about 50p.

Here are my ingredients and kit ready to go.

50p starter

Cooking the Laksa

Next, on to the main course of a Organic Leg of Lamb.  I took Martin’s advice and bagged a reduced organic half leg of lamb for £7.89, rather than the original £11.78. Now I know that this is still a hefty price tag but I do not like to buy cheap meat (I accept that I can afford to make this choice and many other people don’t have that option) but even forgetting the organic badge, £7.89 is still cheap for a decent lump of meat and this is a recipe for quality food remember.


So how to make this lamb even more quality – marinading of course.

So I picked some rosemary, thyme and mint from my Garden (oh no, I am turning into Nigel Slater – Well not quite as we have a tray of mixed herbs that the slugs haven’t managed to devour) which I chopped up with 3 garlic cloves and some lemon zest – about 20p’s worth.

Ready for chopping


And then I smothered the lamb in this mix and left it marinate for a few hours.

Marinating away

Now onto all the trimmings.

Potatoes – I am a bit fussy about potatoes and like Albert Bartlett Rooster red potatoes, they are a bit more expensive at £2.00 for 2kgs but they are nice and make great roasties.  so I used about 75ps worth

Parsnips – I always buy my veg loose as it is cheaper and 4 parsnips came in at about 90p

Mashed Celeriac – 80p for a whole celeriac, I used about half so 40p

Roasted Carrots – 30p

Sweetheart Cabbage – again about 40p worth

Peas – sorry Petis Pois – about 50p worth

Yorkshire puddings – Why make your own when Aunt Bessie does a great job at £1.00 for 12, so 8p each

Gravy – Make your own with the roast juices and a stock cube at 15p

All in all the trimmings came to about £4.00

So £11.89 for the main meal

Finally, the pudding.  Now I really have gone all Nigel here but rather than getting windfalls from my own orchard, I bagged some from my father in law – so free apples.

I then had some leftover plums about to go rotten in the fruit bowl, so about 30p worth and then the final ingredient really is the middle class pièce de résistance – cherries picked from our own tree in Kent!  Now these too were free (well apart from the cost of petrol driving to and from Kent twice) as we were bought a rent a cherry tree as a christmas present and harvested a load of cherries.

So our freezer is full of cherries, here are some frozen ones

our harvest frozen

And here they are being stewed.

Stewing our harvest

and potted into the ultimate middle class accessory – the Kilner jar!


Anyway, GarysKitchen has loads of free cherries!

Next the crumble mix.

Butter, flour, some porridge oats, brown sugar and ground almonds – what do you reckon, about a quid?

And finally custard – again why make your own when ambrosia does 500g for a quid.

So total pudding coming in at about £2.30 

Here are the finished articles

Veggie Laksa

Lamb Roast

Fruit crumble

and all three together

Three together

Easy Sushi and Summer Rolls

GarysKitchen loves sushi and summer roles so I decided to have a go at making my own.

It was pretty easy.

I used a mix of king prawn, avocado, red pepper, carrot, cucumber and sushi rice, but you could use whatever you fancy.

I cooked the sushi rice and then left it to go cold.

I sliced the avocado, red pepper, carrots, cucumber into thin long slices.

First for the summer rolls. I used sushi rice as my filling instead of rice noodles but you basically warp up your ingredients in the rice paper and your done.

The sushi is the same but using nori and laying everything flat and then roll it up.

Once rolled, slice up into smaller rolls and then serve with your favourite dipping sauce.





sushi 1


summer rolls

sushi 2

Chicken Brick

Here is the simplest of recipes using a chicken brick.

And if you’re wondering what the heck a chicken Brick is read this

First soak your chicken brick – here’s mine

GarysKitchen chicken brick


Then chop up an onion, carrot, celery and some herbs (whatever you fancy with chicken), chuck them in your chicken brick.

Add your chicken and put a quarter of lemon in the cavity.  Add about a cup of water to the chicken brick and season with salt and pepper, put it in a cold oven and tun up to 200 degrees and then leave it for a couple of hours.

Here is my chicken before



and here it is after a couple of hours

and after


Seriously this was superb chicken and the liquid produced whilst cooking made the best ever gravy.



So if you ever see a chicken brick, buy one for the most delicious chicken ever.

A mystery plant

Whilst pottering in GarysKitchen garden recently, I noticed that a strange plant had sprouted up next to my compost bin.

It looked pretty impressive and after a bit of Google research I have decided it is some kind of Cucurbita moschata most probably a butternut squash, from a rogue seed that was dumped into the compost.

Here is the plant in it’s early stages

in the early stages

Here it is a few weeks later

and a few weeks later

As you can see it is growing at a heck of a rate and I am hoping that it will produce some fine produce in the Autumn.  On the other hand I could end up with something like the Little Shop of Horrors.

It is now nearing the end of August and the mystery plant keeps on getting bigger.

Feed Me!

The butternut squash are getting bigger

first the flower

then the squash

and even bigger

The monster keeps growing.  We’re well into October and the not so mystery plant still keeps growing and we have some massive butternut squash.

check out these beauties

I am going to leave them as they seem to be growing nicely and I suppose they’ll be harvested before the first frost.

Well I couldn’t wait for the first frost as it is getting colder and my mystery squash didn’t seem to be doing much on the vine.

So they’ve been harvested and here they are in all their green glory.

Look at these beauties


Now my understanding is that after a few days on the windowsill they will turn the normal beige colour of butternut squash – fingers crossed.


GBBO – It’s back with a bang

Great British Bake Off is back –  Series 4 – CAKE, kicked off last night with absolutely no changes.

The winning formula of signature bake, technical challenge and showstopper remain with the only change being 13 (a bakers dozen) contestants, and they even looked reassuringly familiar.

Paul and Mary said the same things “good bake” and “nice texture”, the baking catastrophes were the same with Toby mistakenly adding salt instead of sugar aka John Whaite’s rumbabas in Series 3.  Even Mel and Sue’s jokes were familiar, although the tiny temper chocolate gag was new.

So to celebrate the new series here is a photo of Son of GarysKitchen birthday cake.

I didn't make the chocolate cigars by hand though

I didn’t make the chocolate cigars by hand though



and for my overseas readers here is a link to the episode on Youtube

Authentic Chicken Shish Kebab – Shish Taouk

With the recent hot weather I’ve been sparking up the BBQ regularly.

I’ve cooked the infamous beer can chicken – here is my chuck ready for the BBQ.  Sorry no after photo’s I’m afraid.

Ready to go

I’ve also cooked some lovely BBQ vegetables



Yesterday, however, saw me trying to replicate an Authentic Chicken Shish Kebab.

After some considerable research to try and find a recipe that gave GarysKitchen the secrets to the orange coloured chicken we see under cling film in our favourite kebab shop

chicken shish



I found a great recipe, which of course I adapted as follows:

The juice and zest of one lemon

2 crushed garlic cloves

a teaspoon of dried oregano

a teaspoon of chilli imami paste

chilli imami paste


a teaspoon of la chinata paprika

a some milk as I didn’t have any yoghurt

After mixing this all up, Garyskitchen was ready to marinade

marinading away


After a good soaking for about 4 hours – I reckon they would be even better left over night – we were ready for some serious kebabing.

I was trying to imagine exactly how these beauties look in our favourite kebab shop but realised that I didn’t have those fantastic skewers that look like swords – I can see a visit to ebay coming on.



So had to make do with my own skewers but I reckon that my chicken shish doesn’t look too bad

ready for the bbq


ready to go


I went for simple red pepper and red onion mix with the chicken and was quite pleased but would have liked the chicken to be a bit more orangey, for that authentic look.

Nevertheless, I sparked up old smokey and was ready to grill my kebabs.

But as we all know the secret to a great kebab is not just the chicken.  Of course you have to have the full salad, chilli’s and added chilli sauce.


Then there is the pita or wrap dilemma.  Of course a pita is traditional but GarysKitchen is rather partial to a wrap – easier to handle.

So with all this in mind we started building the Authentic  Chicken Shish Kebab.

First the flame grilling





flame grilled

Then the building


Do you want salad with that?

full salad?


and another from a different angle so you can get the full glory of the Saturday night feast

another angle


And finally – Chilli Sauce?

chilli saus?


Now I skipped the soggy chips, extra sides and can of dodgy coke but was still delighted with how good my Authentic Chicken Shish tasted.

But if you are hankering after the full works check out this beauty – photo credit surrealist303!

Doner Special

Spanish Gastronomy

You will all be aware of the fantastic food available in Spain.

From the world famous, but now closed, El Bulli to the number one restaurant in the world El Celler de Can Roca Spain leads the way in gastronomy.

GarysKitchen has not tried these amazing places but does try and seek out some great food when in Spain.  One of our favourites was (notice the word was) the brilliant El Cideria in Benicassim.  So off we went again to enjoy some excellent food and drink but to our disappointment El Cideria was no more.  It had now become La Alameda Gin Bar!

Despite the change of name the place looked familiar so we decided to give it a try – and we are really glad we did.

We were warmly greeted by a waiter that spoke excellent English and gave us our menus, again in English.  This was a little disappointing as half the fun is trying to figure out what the heck we are going to order. Also the translation wasn’t very good so we asked for a Spanish version and again we are glad we did, as it was very different and much broader.

We ordered the Menu Del Carta which consisted of a selection of courses followed by either meat or fish – we plumped for the meat.

So our Spanish Gastronomy journey started……

First some wonderful home baked bread with allioli and tomato paste

allioli and tomato

This was followed by a salad of cheese, pear and membrillo (Quince jam)

cheese salad

Next came foie gras and carpaccio of duck


Then the most amazing and unusual dish we have ever had.  Octopus with creamed potato, which we have found out is the Galician speciality.


After these courses, we had a little breather and a change of cutlery.

steak knife

Ready for the best entrecote steak we have ever enjoyed.


We were never asked how we wanted it cooked so if you enjoy well cooked steak you had best avoid this place but for us it was perfect


After enjoying our feast we were ready for a dessert of piccotta cherries, chocolate brownie, coffee flan, lemon espuma (mousse) and galletta helado (biscuit ice cream) – WOW.