Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Coffee and Oranges - The Breakfast of Champions

There can be nothing more enjoyable of a lazy weekend morning than giving yourself a leisurely breakfast. Some like the good old fashioned English breakfast, some like the taste of a buttery croissant and a bowl of chocolat chaud and other - more sadistic fellows than I - like to lop the top off a boiled egg and drown toasted soilders in its viscous yolk. For me there is something yet simpler, requiring none of the fuss of the former three! This would be strong black coffee and ripe Navel Oranges.

Migraine sufferer look away in envy for this is possibly the worst of all breakfasts for you as it is said that these two foodstuffs trigger off that form of splitting headache! But for all of us more fortunate chaps and chappesses coffee and oranges are a welcome treat on a cold winters morning.

No one can deny the lovely savour of a freshly brewed pot of strong black coffee (my personal favourite is Lavazza's Rosso label or for those who like it stronger their Crema e Gusto (priced around £2.50-3)). I also prefer the taste of Cafetiere Coffee to that from a Machine but feel free to make your own choice!

When making your coffee make sure that you do not add water when it has just reached boiling point otherwise you will scorch the grounds and add a very bitter note to the backtaste. Some people swear by certain flavour enhancers such as a pinch of salt, powdered mustard or lemon zest - personally I think they are a waste of time, but once again use your discrection. Wait 30 seconds and then pour the water into the pot, lid it and wait for 2-3 minutes to let the flavours infuse. Again their is much debate as to how long you should leave it but it shouldn't matter too much if you leave it is a little less or longer. Depress the plunger and you are ready to serve. If it is to be drunk with oranges then it must be black - sweetened or unsweetened as to your taste.

To get the most out of your oranges look for those with a thiner skin and which feel firm to the touch, prefereably Naval which are my favourite as they are often a little sweeter and more fragrant than their equally common Valencia counterpart. There is nothing quite like that zesty smell you get when you peel and orange and it mingles very nicely with the coffee aromas as you are preparing.

In order to get maximum flavour my recommendation is to peel the whole orange, remove the naval and slice it into discs and resting it for a minute or two so the cut surface can reabsorb the lost juices!

To finish, plate and mug up, run yourself a hot bath and languish leisurely as you indulge in what I like to think is the real Breakfast of Champions!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Recipe - A great use for leftover roast pork

Having just whipped up a improvised stir fry for my supper I thought I might share with you a cracking recipe using something which people often struggle to give a new lease of life.

Everybody likes cold roast meats in a sandwich or for a cold Ploughman's supper after a busy day at work, which can be delicious, but if you feel like something a bit different then I think you might enjoy this recipe.


Good slug of groundnut oil
2 thick slices of cold roast pork (finely sliced into strips)
1 handful of oyster mushrooms (roughly chopped)
1 handful of finely sliced savoy cabbage
1 handful of frozen petit pois pea
1 glass of dry white wine
1 green chili (roughly chopped)
1 large lump of ginger (Finely Sliced)
2 Cloves Garlic (Crushed)
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp runny honey
1 tsp white wine vinegar
Pinch dried coriander
Handful of roughly chopped fresh coriander
1 handful basmati rice
Seasoning (to taste)


1. Combine chili, ginger, garlic, light soy, dark soy, honey, vinegar and dried coriander and pour over the pork and coat it using clean hands.

2. set a pan of salted water on the hob, bring to the boil and add the rice.

3. Halfway through the rice cooking (it should take about 10-15 minutes if you don't like it too mushy) start heating the oil in a large, heavy frying pan or wok on the smallest gas/electric ring.

4. When the oil becomes hot enough add the pork, the marinade and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the white wine.

5. Burn off the alcohol (This won't take to long and you can tell by using your nose!) and add the mushrooms and the cabbage. At this point you also want to drain the rice and leave to stand for a few minutes whilst the vegetables cook.

6. Around 2 minutes before you intend to turn off the heat add the rice and the peas, stir in and cook until the peas are just heated through.

7. turn off the heat, leave to sit for a minute, serve sprinkled with chopped coriander and season to taste.

Just William - As Good a place to start as any

....As I wound my way up to London for a lunch meeting I was thrown into something of a quandary. The truth of the matter was that I had no idea of what subject I would lead off with. Tonnes of ideas whizzed through my mind as the train pulled into Waterloo and I was still no wiser after my lunch meeting! It seemed that the blog would end before it had a chance to get going!

Sauntering back through the open spaces of Trafalgar Square I thought I would pop into a nearby branch of Waterstones and see if there was anything on the shelves that might distract me from the logical block that seemed to be inhabiting my mind at that time.

Rifling through the shelves with such  titles as Germania, Penguin Book of Facts, NOMA: The Cookbook I was still having little luck until I alighted on one of our Country's most beloved fictional characters, William Brown.

William Brown is the inimitable rogue growing up in the idyllic countryside town of Marleigh during the 1940s. His childhood is one of rose tinted googles and one which I - and I am sure a great deal of now grown up men - longed for when I was about 9-10 years old. Mountains of old fashioned sweets; adventures involving pirates, cowboys and robin hood; hilarious practical jokes and misunderstanding and a love for showing off and performing are all things which form the bedrock of a healthy, if rather imaginative adulthood!

This is not to say that all of Richmal Crompton's William books were focused on stories, there is even one - essential reading/listening in my view - that encapsulates the Zen of William and is as fine and certainly the most amusing philosophy I have ever heard. It is called Home for the Holidays and it is priced at around £15 on CD, it is well worth buying!

Now I must confess that I - like I am sure a larger number of people who look at this blog - have never read Just William, I have merely listened to it. There is no doubt as to the credibility of this statement as they are read so well and with such verve by the great Martin Jarvis. I don't know about you but I can sit transfixed to one of these recordings for hours and then start all over again, they are remarkably entertaining!

When you are purchasing any Just William items, please make sure you purchase them in their physical disc form rather than as an MP3 download. Although the download from Audible and Itunes is cheaper, the sound quality is greatly inferior and you will wish you had spent that little extra in the shop!

I welcome any comments on this matter, perhaps there are some spoken word items that you think might be of relevance of perhaps you think that there are better narrators than Martin Jarvis... in any case, I would love to know!


Dear Readers,

Welcome one and all to my new blog. For those of you who know me well then this will hardly come as a surprise! The title of the blog is taken from the working title of the Cookery book that I am now writing and, as I want my book to sell to a wide demographic then it is unlikely that I will  be able to use this witty but limiting title!

The object of this blog is to serve as an outlet for mine and others creative juices revolving around the premise of the once great amateur spirit that Britain was so renowned for. In an age where dumbing down and political correctness seems to plague the nation this blog will celebrate both the fashionable and the unfashionable alike and hopefully serve as a guide for all in how to be a bloody good chap.

I hope that this will develop into something bigger but in the meantime please let me know what you might like to see posted or ways in which I can improve the blog once it gets started. I look forward to offering some daily pearls of wisdom and as such I hope you enjoy receiving them.