Best roast potatoes in the world

9 11 2010

Being British I have eaten my fair share of roast potatoes, quite often as an accompaniment to roast beef but just as often alongside other less traditional dishes or just by themselves.

Some roast potatoes are good, some are ok and some are a downright insult. These roast potatoes are great.

Personally I love the mix of the regular potatoes with their new world sweet potato counterparts but you can exclude these if you want to keep things old school, if you don’t use the sweet potatoes then replace them with more white potatoes.

You will need:

2lb of white potatoes

1lb of sweet potatoes

2 large red onions

3 cloves of garlic

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar

fresh thyme

fresh rosemary

a handful of  sage leaves

sea salt

black pepper

 

Pre-heat an oven to 200 degrees C

Peel your regular potatoes and cut them into pieces of uniform size,  boil these for approx 6-7 minutes until they are part cooked.

At this point place the potatoes into a colander and give them a shake so that the edges get chuffed up. Pat dry the potatoes using some kitchen paper so they are as dry as you can get them.

place your potatoes into a large roasting tray and pour over a good amount of the extra virgin olive oil about 3/4 table spoons. Roll the potatoes around so that they are all evenly coated in the olive oil, season the potatoes with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

At this point pop the tray into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, at this point they should be lightly golden brown .

Whilst the potatoes are in the oven by themselves you can prepare everything else; peel the onions and chop them into at least quarters, peel the garlic cloves and roughly smash them so that all of the flavour is released, clean your sweet potatoes and chop them into small chunks with the skin left on, remove any woody stalks from your rosemary and thyme.

Take a bowl and mix the herbs together with a good glug of olive oil and about 2  tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

Take your tray of potatoes and add in the sweet potatoes, onions and garlic making sure that everything is well distributed.

Now pour over the mix of herbs, oil and vinegar again making sure that everything is well coated and well distributed.

Turn the oven down to approx 180 degrees C and cook for a further 45/50 minutes until everything is crispy and bubbling.

Transfer to a dish and either serve immediately or cover with a lid and serve within 15/20 minutes at the most.

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The Kings Ford – Chingford E4

22 10 2010
The King’s Ford
250-252 Chingford Mount Road
Chingford
E4 8JL
Phone
020 8523 9365

The Kings Ford is part of the JD Wetherspoon chain of pubs and as always with Wetherspoon pubs you mostly know whar you are gonig to get before you even enter the door.

There is the usual cheap, cheerful and filling pub grub there are the same specials nights and same offers that you see scrawled on chalk boards the length and breadth of the country.

There is also the same bittersweet feeling that accompanies all Wetherspoon venues; I always feel a pang of dissapointment that the pub in question is part of a chain and isn’t an independant local free from the whims of big busines. However at the same time this is always offset by the fact that if Wetherspoons weren’t around there would be even fewer pubs then there now are and far fewer pubs would serve real ale

All that aside the King’s Ford isn’t a bad little pub; certainly it is one of the few options if you want to drink well kept real ales at a pub in Waltham Forest and that alone makes it worth a mention.

You certainly wouldn’t visit the King’s Ford for the decor, it is dark and dingy inside and looks like it is overdue a spot of renovation, but then I guess Wetherspoon have bigger fish to fry then the wallpaper of a pub in Chingford.

The atmosphere in the pub is nice enough during the day and in early evenings when it is mostly old men passing the day away enjoying a cheap pint or 5. Over the weekend it does get busy, the cheap price of drinks makes it a popular place for people to start the night off before heading on elswe as such there can be a distinct lack of seating from about 8.30 onwards.

Service is normally good and the pub seems really well run, the current management are strict on checking ID which seems to deter a lot of the underage kids that often make a Wetherspoon pub their home from home.

There are usually at least 5 ales on tap and the selection is good, even by Wetherspoon standards. Last time I was in the King’s Ford they had Abbot Ale, Greene King IPA, Rudgate Ruby Mild and two beers from the Brentwood Brewery – Chockwork Orange and Hope & Glory.

I can really recommend the Chockwork Orange, it is a beautifully complex dark ale coming in at a pleasant 6.5%.

As well as the real ales on tap they also had a cider that managed to fall outside of the usual strongbow or magners selection  in this case it was Weston’s Marcle Hill.

If you are looking for a traditional English pub full of character then the King’s Ford probably isn’t the pub for you, but if you are looking for a good selection of real ales at a great price and happen to be in the area then give it a go.





Do you like beer?

25 04 2010

Do you like beer?

Not really a challenging question, most people are going to answer somewhere in the region of “hell yeah” and rightly so!

Well if you did indeed answer yes (if not why not?) then you might like to check out my other blog Bottoms Up; it is all about this wonderful life enhancing beverage and good places to enjoy it.

Shameless self promotion I realise but I did swear an oath to promote good beer and good pubs (well maybe not quite an oath!0





Toad in the hole

21 03 2010

Last Wednesday I came in from work and was at a complete loose end as to what to make for tea; the cupboards and fridge were looking rather sparse and I was only a few minutes away from reaching from the dreaded stack of take-away menues when I was hit with a bolt of inspiration and decided to cook up one of my absolute favourites from childhood, Toad in the Hole.

I know that many people have many different ways of making this British classic but here is mine, stolen from my dear old mum’s cookery book, it certainly won’t make you thin but it will put a smile on your face.

To make enough to feed 4 people or two greedy ones you will need the following ingredients:

For the Toad in the Hole

100g Plain Flour

1 large egg

150 ml milk & 150 ml water

8 rashers of good quality unsmoked bacon

8 good quality pork sausages (cumberland sausages work very well in this dish)

1 onion thinly sliced

vegetable oil

For the Onion Gravy

1 onion thinly sliced

2tsp English mustard

2tsp plain flour

2tsp Worcestershire sauce (dark soy sauce if you can’t get Worcestershire sauce)

2tsp Vegetable oil

600ml of chicken stock ( vegetable stock also works if you prefer)

Method.

1.Preheat the oven to fan 200C/conventional 220C/ gas 7. Sift the flour and a make a well in the centre and crack in the egg. Beat lightly,then gradually pour in half the milk and water, beating all the time to form a smooth,thick batter. Continue for 2 minutes,then stir in the remaining liquid. (The batter can be made several hours ahead of time, however despite many people ascertations this is not needed.)

2.Wrap a bacon rasher around each sausage then put them, spaced apart, in a large roasting tin (preferably metal). Scatter over the onion and drizzle with oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the bacon and sausages are starting to colour and the onion is tinged brown at the edges.

3.Remove from the oven and quickly pour the batter over the sausages. Return to the oven for a further 35-40 minutes until the batter is crisp and well risen.

4.Meanwhile,make the gravy. Heat the vegetable oil in a small pan, add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes or so until softened and lightly coloured. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute or until the flour has cooked out fully. Add the mustard, Worcestershire or soy sauce and stock and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 15 minutes, then taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Toad in the Hole is best eaten with mounds of fluffly mash potatoes and plenty of the onion gravy, enjoy!








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