Posts Tagged ‘hugh fearnley-whittingstall’

Turkey salad

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 | Food

I’ve done all the recipes I want to do from Hugh’s Veg Every Day book, so I’ve started going back over them while combing in extra ingredients that I have found lying around during the Saturday inventory.


This one was the new potato, tomato and boiled egg salad. I swapped out the mustard in the vignette for honey and mild chilli powder. Then I (and by “I” I mean my sous chef Elina) fried up some turkey that we had marinated in some kind of substance. I think I put sunflower oil, freshly-ground black pepper, Jamaican jerk, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.

Beyond River Cottage

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 | Distractions

Five years on from starting River Cottage, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall up-scales, buying himself a much larger farm and a second one that he converts into the River Cottage HQ – a field kitchen, cookery school and vegetable garden all rolled into one.

It’s an irritatingly cool thing to do. Starting up a business or project is always an exciting thing to do, let alone the opportunity to be unjustifiably pretentious about food.

It’s also nice to see a human side to Hugh. In the first set of River Cottage series, he tends to succeed at everything. Turning up to livestock and vegetable shows and winning prizes with no experience. There is still plenty of that, but he also struggles from time to time. He burns his toffee and gets caught out in the judging. He runs out of oven space to cook all his chickens, and Gill has to save the day.

His ten bird roast was also very impressive. Goose, farm duck, mallard, chicken, pheasant, guinea fowl, partridge, pigeon and woodcock, all stuffed inside a turkey.

Beyond River Cottage

River Cottage: Pig in a Day

Saturday, March 14th, 2015 | Distractions

Oh Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall. My hero, my idol, for at least the past two months. How much damage you can do with two comments.

River Cottage: Pig in a Day is a course run at River Cottage HQ to teach people how to butcher a big. They then translated it into a two hour DVD. The DVD starts with a really nice section on keeping your own pigs and what fun they can be, before showing footage of sawing through a head and butchering the entire body of a dead one.

There were however two bits that annoyed me. Firstly, Hugh said the only real health problem he gets with his pigs were coughs and colds, that he treats with homoeopathic remedies. Boo! What a confidence knock in an otherwise sensible man.

Though this does have the advantage that you can clearly just ignore colds because they will go away by themselves. Or does it? This brings up an interesting question as to whether placebo works on animals. RationalWiki suggests that you can condition animals to get the benefit.

Secondly he referred to organic salt. What the fuck is organic salt? Presumably one with additives because you need to get the carbon in there somehow…

Anyway, that aside, the show really does embrace Hugh’s “nose to tail” philosophy as he calls it. They eat pretty much everything. I say pretty much because a bit of fat gets cut off, and the eyes come out. However, that is pretty much it. The organs are cooked, the trotters and tail are used for stock, and even the brain is fried up and scoffed.

It was a mildly interesting watch, but I’m not sure how much appeal it has. You are either a) do not have your own pigs, which seems very likely, so how relevant is the content? Or B) you do have your own pigs, in which case are you really going to try and butcher the entire thing based a DVD? If so, I tip my hat to you, you clearly have some balls. Specifically pig’s balls.

River Cottage

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 | Distractions

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s third TV series, his most famous, is River Cottage. There are actually lots of them but so far I have watched the original ones, Escape to River Cottage, Return to River Cottage and River Cottage Forever.

This follows him packing up his life in London and moving to Dorset to live as a smallholder – that is someone who has a small farm, primarily used for self subsistence. Each series follows a year.

He seems to be well versed in rural life already. While he clearly isn’t a livestock expert, he does manage to keep them alive and seems familiar with a lot of activities I would not be, such as diving, butchery, smoking meat and wielding a gun. He also manages the first two years in a soft-top classic sports car, before finally giving in and buying a Land Rover (also a soft-top).

I did wonder how real it was. For example he talks about going to do a farmers market to raise some cash for a little project he has on. But was does the £100 actually cover? Presumably not his rent, his vet’s bills, or the large amount of food he buys in to supplement his own stocks. Fun to watch, but I got the distinct impression that undertaking such a project was not actually in the reach of us plebs, despite Hugh’s assertion that we could all do it.

It’s not really a cooking show. He cooks things obviously, but I did not come away with any recipe ideas. It’s just fun to watch (and it is very entertaining), and possible dream.

Cook on the Wild Side

Monday, March 9th, 2015 | Distractions

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s first TV show was called Cook on the Wild Side. In his first series he converted a truck into a “gastro van”, which the back folded out into a complete kitchen for him to cook from anywhere. He then drove round the country foraging for food and cooking it up.

There was a surprisingly amount of illegal activity in it, which was amusing. He tried poaching, trespassing and raiding supermarket bins. He went everywhere from inner city London to the highlands of Scotland. In seemed quite realistic in that a lot of his attempts, especially fishing, just did not work.

In the second series he used a boat that he sailed up the canals and even included a bike with a pedal-powered stove so that he could leave the water whenever he needed.

While the series was highly entertaining, I also took away two practical tips. The first is that you can eat common garden snails. Literally you can just pick them up and fry them. Though you may also want to cleanse them for a few days before doing this. Gorden Ramsey has a great video on this as well:

Secondly Hugh recommends a book called “why not eat insects?” and then goes on to gather up woodlice from a wood and then fry them too. Apparently they taste like shrimp. I like shrimp…

River Cottage Veg Every Day!

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 | Books

I wanted a good book on cooking with vegetables over Christmas and I eventually settled on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “Veg Every Day!” book. It has quickly become my favourite cookbook.

Good points

I got it in hardback format which helps keeps the book open and protects it. There is a photo of pretty much every single recipe – a recipe on one page and a full almost-A4 size colour photo on the other. That is probably the best feature of the book.

It is also really good food. All of the dishes are interesting and tasty. None of if uses meat substitutes; there is a real focus on cooking with interesting vegetables rather than making dishes with meat alternatives.

It was only £12 for the hardback.

Bad points

Just one really, though it is a big one. Everything takes ages to make. Ages! If you are a vaguely competent chef, you can probably work a lot quicker than me, and might be able to do most of the recipes within an hour. Me, not so much. I normally budget an hour and a half, maybe even longer, to make each one.


Another irritating food post

Monday, January 5th, 2015 | Food

I recently bought myself a copy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Vegetable Cookbook and I have been using the downtime over Christmas to working through some of the recipes. I’ve had mixed results.

Disastrously Sainsbury’s online do not sell Swiss chard – this is figuratively a middle class nightmare. It is also difficult because every single recipe seems to start with “chop and then fry a large onion”…


Mostly made of peppers and tomatoes, then you bake a couple of eggs in it. The egg was good. It also smells increasingly nice as you cook it.


Pinto Bean Chilli

A bit of a hassle to make because you have to soak the pinto beans overnight. You also need to add plenty of chilli. The first one I did I had deseeded the chilli and it was a bit bland, whereas the second one that included the seeds was much better.


North African squash and chickpea soup

Barely looks anything like the picture.


Pearl barley broth

To really get the croutons right you need to let the bread go stale.


Beetroot soup

Nicer than it sounds. But that is a fairly low bar to beat.


Squash and fennel lasagne

This is also a pain to make. You have to bake the squash while sautéing the fennel and boiling the sauce before combing it all together and baking some more. Very nice though, probably due to the quantity of cheese in it. I think I actually prefer fennel cold.