Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Close Encounter with an Olympic Flame

Yesterday afternoon we were allowed the opportunity to witness the passing Olympic flame.

I think this is the best I could get out of the limited opportunity, though I had initially thought I wouldn't go and wait and watch, but it occurred to me that this was the only chance I'd ever get to see the flame.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


This is my second attempt at Cassoulet which I wanted to try again since my first attempt was pretty good and well received.
As is usually the case I have cooked far too much so I would expect to get 6-8 portions out of this.
I started on Friday night by soaking about 150g of dried Haricot Beans (White Beans, Navy Beans) in cold water. On Saturday Morning I drained the beans and put them in a pan with a quartered Onion, 2 cloves of Garlic and a teaspoon each of dried Thyme and Rosemary. This was brought to the boil and allowed to simmer on the lowest setting on the smallest (1kW) ring on my stove for about 90 minutes. The beans were then tipped into my French Casserole Dish along with the residual cooking liquor.
Cassoulet in my French Casserole Dish
To the casserole I then added 2 Sliced Onions, 4 Cloves of Garlic, 4 halved and quartered (⅛ths) Ripe Tomatoes and a teaspoon each of Rosemary and Thyme.
For the meat I would have preferred to get a piece of Smoked Streaky Bacon but since I've found nowhere in Bath that sells bacon sliced to order I had to get imaginative. I purchased a 750g Gammon joint. After removing all the packaging (including the paper like wrap holding it together) I placed in a large enough saucepan and brought it to the boil before simmering for 5 minutes to remove some of the salt. I then sliced it across the grain to give me a piece weighing just over 350g. This I cut into about 12 or so bite size pieces and placed in the casserole. The remainder I put back in the pan and continued to simmer until fully cooked ready to slice and eat later. Before putting the lidded casserole into the oven, preheated to Gas Mark 3 (325°F, 170°C), I gave the whole lot a good stir to mix it all up with a good slug (100ml) of White Wine and lots of freshly ground Black Pepper.
For the sausages I chose to use the traditional Toulouse Sausages with their course texture, Garlic, Red Wine and  Herbs. The ones I found at the Bath Farmers Market were produced by Castellanos. The previous sausage I used had been from the Bath Sausage Shop which use smoked bacon as well as raw pork. Bath Sausage Shop is further from home so to avoid more delay I bought Castellanos' instead. After browning the sausages in a frying pan I halved them and added these to the casserole after the first hour. At this point I noted that there was rather less bean than I'd hoped so I tipped in a regular can of Baked Beans just to bulk it up a bit. Next time I'll soak and cook 250g of dried beans.
After 2 hours the smell was delicious, I removed the lid gave it a good stir and covered the top with bread crumbs and dots of butter, then put it back in the oven for a further hour. Once the breadcrumb topping has browned the dish is ready.
Dinner was served with Garlic Bread baguettes and several glasses of Sainsbury's amazing Cabernet Sauvignon appropriately sourced from the Pay D'Oc. Oddly the wine is not listed on Sainsbury's own web site although the Merlot in the same packaging is.
Inevitably I ate far too much and this morning (Sunday) I am writing this with a remaining slight discomfort.
Now what am I going to do with the rest?


250g Dried Haricot Beans
3 Medium White Onions
6 Cloves Garlic
2 tsp Dried Rosemary
2 tsp Dried Thyme
3 Ripe Tomatoes
100ml White Wine
325g Smoked Pork (ideally unsliced smoked streaky)
4-6 Toulouse Sausages

Monday, 7 May 2012

Punch Taverns do it again

Another day and another great british pub gets written off.

Punch Taverns once again prove that they have absolutely no interest in running pubs.

To deprive the community of Southstock, Bath and the whole district of this wonderful pub is sheer bloody vandalism.

How can this be permitted under planning guidance, to turn an ancient public house into accommodation and offices.

Hey Punch you bastards, rip the heart out of our communities would you? I hope you all rot in hell. Don't your bond holders realise you're only in it for the short term? Take your weekly salaries and go home Friday's to your snug little homes while the destruction you leave is a testament to the triumph of capitalist immorality. F*** off  and leave us alone.

Packhorse - Southstoke
 Image shamelessly stolen from Bath Pubs and Bars

Wake up Britain - between H.M.G. and the pub owning property companies your heritage is being destroyed by narrow minded politics, greed and immoral capitalism.

Sign the e-Petitions and get your voice heard.

As yet a planning application has not been published on the B&NES planning site and H.M.G has amended guidance on change of use of pubs and community assets.

You'll have no one to blame when the only place to get beer and food will be a Mitchells and Butlers / Stonegate / Spirit style branded 'offering'. Nasty over priced precooked frozen and reheated crap served in a building with less character than my big toe.

Come on someone put a stop to this bollocks!!! Please!!