Monday, 13 August 2018

South African Pink Apple Cornmeal Cake


Oh yay, oh yay, the rain did finally come. After enduring weeks and weeks of seething hot weather, it broke at last. And of course, once the pitter patter commenced to fall down upon our dusty windows and scorched grass, da kids looked mournfully out and then turned to us and said 'We're bored!'

Bloody kids. Seriously, you couldn't eat a whole one.

But thankfully, on the very same day, we received a hamper of apples and pears from South African Fruit. So I took the unprecedented move of reaching into the cupboard and saying 'Right, here's a recipe card! Here's some polenta! Here's some butter. Here's some bloody ground almonds! Now, go make me a cake and be quiet while you are doing it!'

Of course, they weren't very quiet at all and came into the front room about 50 times, whilst I was hunched over my laptop on the sofa, trying to think of witty ways to sell packets of crisps. But I persevered in giving them free rein.

Even when it was announced that several eggs had fallen on the floor and that the dog was licking the eggs and what should they do? Should they try and save the eggs? Or let Lenny eat the eggs?

('Too late, Dad. Lenny's eaten the eggs')

But they didn't do a bad job at all really, which is testimony to the recipe itself and perhaps their burgeoning skills in the kitchen. I'd say that they poached the slices of delicate Pink Lady a little too long. Someone said that they resembled radishes. Which they sort of do. However, they got the main drift and produced a sweet, sumptuous round of cake, that delivered a slice of sunshine, on an otherwise dull and grey day.

Well done kids!

Now, get back out in the garden!

South African Pink Apple Cornmeal Cake

Ingredients

1 South African Pink Lady or Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
150g butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1tsp vanilla extract
150g polenta
Pinch of salt
200g ground almonds
1tsp gluten-free baking powder (most baking powder is gluten-free)
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Topping:

Finely shredded zest and juice of 1 lemon
40g icing sugar
1 South African Pink Lady or Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced

Crème fraiche, to serve

Method

Cook the chopped apple in a small amount of water for 5-6 minutes, until tender. Drain and cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas Mark 4.
Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy, then gradually beat in the eggs.

Fold in the vanilla, polenta, salt, ground almonds and baking powder.

Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and cooled apples.

Transfer the mixture to the cake tin and level the top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until set and golden.

Cool for 20 minutes in the tin, then turn out carefully and cool completely. Remove the lining paper.

Heat the lemon zest and juice with 4tbsp water and the icing sugar.

Add the apple slices and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Spoon over the cake and cool.

Serve with crème fraiche.


Monday, 6 August 2018

How to make egg on toast, the Food Urchin way



Hey. You. I know what you are thinking right now. You're thinking it is hot. Damn hot. Too hot. Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Or pavement even.

But now that I have mentioned fried eggs, you are probably thinking - 'Hmm, fried egg. I'd love a fried egg right now. So good for you. So tasty.'

Uh-uh?

What if I were to mention toast right now? Yeah? You know, that stuff you get from putting slices of bread under a grill? Or in a toaster? Yeah baby. Toast. Fried egg. This is sounding good, isn't it?

Did I say butter? Hot butter. The kinda butter that oozes in this heat. Melted butter. Puddles of butter. Dripping. On the floor. Onto your toes. Hey dog! Get off my toes. Stop licking my toes. Actually, no.

Don't stop. That kinda feels good.

So here we are. Fried egg. Toast. Butter. How do we put this three great things together? Well, I am going to tell you. This is how you make fried on toast, with butter. The Food Urchin way.

So, let's begin. First, grab some bread. Preferably the sliced variety but hey, if you like to slice your own, no sweat. Although it is kinda sweaty at the moment.



Switch the grill on. Up high. We need to get that toast hot! Super hot. This is not the time for cold toast. However bad you need it. However bad you want to rub cold toast all over your body. Or however deluded this weather is making you. This is not the time for cold toast. No cold toast ever.

Hot toast.

Lay down the bread on your tray and then slide it in. Yeah baby, all the way in. Right under that glowing element. That only heats up in the middle. Yeah, you must get someone in to look at that.

You do pay a monthly insurance premium on the oven after all.

Leave the bread to toast. The heat from the element will do all the work for you. Unless it doesn't work properly. Then you might need to move around. That's OK. It's all about the touch. Use your fingers.

Now you need an egg. Preferably one that has come from a chicken. You also need a frying pan. And some oil. Not baby oil, baby. That's for later. You need something like vegetable oil. Or a fine blend of olive oil and sunflower oil. They've got a good deal on in Morrison's at the minute.



Put your pan on the hob. Turn it on. No, I mean the gas baby. You already turn me on. Pour some oil in. Let it heat up. Let it get hot. You want it to shimmer. Quiver. With anticipation.

Grab that egg and crack it on the side. Not too hard! We're making fried eggs here, not scrambled eggs! Ease the shell apart and let that albumen with beautiful ochre yolk slip down. Gently. Softly.

You don't wanna break that yolk.


Broken yolks mean tears. No, I am not joking about my yolking.

Let it bubble, spit, seethe. Passion baby. That's what makes a fried egg truly... a fried egg. Give it a second or two, and then rock that pan. Tilt it. If the eggs sticks that means that someone has washed your frying egg pan with washing up liquid again and that just ain't cool and you are going to have to deal that person later on in a very severe manner. Someone is going to PAY!!

But if the egg slides around? That's cool.

That smell? That faint twist of smoke in the air? That's your bread and it could be burning, so flip that muthaflipper before it does. Carbon kills. The taste-buds.

Keep an eye on that egg too. Watch those edges. Crispness isn't for everyone. Leave crisps down to crisps. Prawn cocktail. You don't want that yolk to go hard either. Or maybe you do? Me? I like it loose. And runny. I give fried eggs a minute. No more. No less.

Check your bread. Is it now toast? A good sign that your toast is toast is if it has turned brown. If it is black, then you have burnt your toast. This is the voice of experience talking here. Sage voice. Keep your toast warm.


We're nearly there now. Soon time to bring out the butter. Remember, it's hot out there. So put your butter in the fridge for 30 minutes beforehand. But if it is too hard, then put it in a microwave. And if it melts after that, put it in the freezer. Repeat until you get it right. Keep your toast warm.

Spread that butter across your hot toast with hot love. Glide the knife. Ease it into the corners. Watch it melt and seep into those holes. Downwards. Inwards. Soaking that bread through with fatty, luxurious joy.

Using a fish slice, that you've never ever used to slice fish before, quietly lift the egg out of the pan. Concentrate. Focus. This is the pivotal moment. Any lapses and that slippy egg is headed for the floor.

And for a happy dog. Don't be unhappy. Concentrate.

Finish by spritzing with a fine dusting off salt and pepper. Run it down from your fingers and off your elbow if you like. Or maybe your knee. Sexy.

Now comes the smooshing. The moment you ruin all your hard work by grinding and smooshing that beautiful runny yolk into that hot, wet toast. And simply...eat.

How was that for you? Was it good?

Yeah baby, it was goooooood, wasn't it.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Getting Freekeh With Comté Cheese


If you think that last Bank Holiday weekend, I spent a large portion of my time BBQing and eating meat - and drinking beer - then you would be bloody well right. I mean, what else are Bank Holidays for?

Actually, I did manage to do a little bit in the garden - mowing, trimming and planting flowers that my children have lovingly grown from seed. Sunflowers and cornflowers mostly. Nothing but sunflowers and cornflowers. Come July, we should be greeted with a riot of blue and yellow petals, and hundreds and hundreds of bees.

I also installed a solar cat repeller in the front garden, in a bid to thwart the neighbourhood moggies, as they do love to use it as their local toilet. Initially, I turned it up to full maximum, high frequency, mega sonic blast. However, then the kids and Lenny started writhing around on the carpet. So I dialled it back down. And in the morning, there was a fresh cat turd waiting for me. So now, I have to wait for everyone to go to bed (including the dog) before turning the thing up to extra premium, asteroid shattering, radio factor force. And then switch it back down in the morning when everyone wakes up again. We are not completely poop free yet. But I do feel like I am making small wins, in some small way.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yes, BBQing. Now, you might be reading this, thinking 'OK Dan, what lump of flesh did you cook up this time?' But I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about the delightful salad that accompanied it. A vibrant and virtuous affair in the shape of dressed freekeh, with grilled pears, pecans, rocket and Comté cheese.

I have made this a few times now, having discovered it on their website and if you are in the business of making something rich, sticky and meaty, this salad is an excellent accompaniment and foil to help soak everything up. I have been using a lot more wholegrain in my cooking recently and freekeh has become quite a staple. It has its own individual flavour, earthy and almost smoky, so the fresh elements of citrus and charred fruit combine well. The cheese itself, can also have some similar characteristics to the freekeh. Especially the nutty notes of a piece of Comté that has been aged for 12 to 14 months. In this dish though, it serves more to add a touch of slight tartness. A lactic twist that pulls together the salt, sweet and sour. It's a fantastic recipe, conjured up by the clever brains of Laura Pope and I have been given kind permission to replicate it here.

The only difference in my method is that I like to scorch the pear pieces over coals, rather than use my heavy griddle pan. Which I broke after throwing it out the front door one night.

Don't panic and don't judge me. I only did it to scare the rotten ginger thing away.

And besides, I missed.

Freekeh salad with Comté, charred pears & cinnamon, rocket & toasted pecans

Ingredients - Serves 4

250g cracked freekeh
750ml chicken or vegetable stock (can use water if you prefer)
2 to 4 just ripe pears (depending on size – you want about 400g in total)
1 tablespoon light olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
50g rocket leaves
100g pecan nuts (without shells)
Zest of ½ lemon and juice of 1 lemon
45ml extra virgin olive oil
200g 12-14 month aged Comté, cubed


Method

Toast the pecans: heat oven to 160℃ fan / 180℃ normal and lay the pecans out on a baking sheet, then toast for about 10 minutes, until they give off a rich aroma – but do not let them burn. Let them cool, remove a handful to leave whole and then roughly chop the rest.

If using cracked freekeh, use one part freekeh to three parts liquid. Put the stock (or water with half a teaspoon of salt added) on to boil, rinse the freekeh in a sieve under cold water and then add it to the boiling liquid, return to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. (Wholegrain freekeh needs more water and a longer cooking time: about 35 to 45 minutes or until tender.)

Drain off any remaining water and stir the freekeh with a fork to separate the grains. Leave it to one side to come to room temperature.

If the skin of the pears is rough and thick, peel them – if not, you can leave it on. Cut them into eighths and cut out the cores. Toss the pears in the oil, cinnamon and a little salt and black pepper.

Heat a griddle pan over a high heat for a few minutes and then char each side of the pears so that they have griddle lines and are warm all the way through – you don’t want to overcook them or they will fall apart. Chop half the pears into cubes and leave the rest for later.

Mix the lemon zest, juice and olive oil together and season with salt and pepper. Mix this through the freekeh and mix in the rocket leaves, the chopped pecan nuts, the cubed pears and most of the Comté. Lay the pear slices on top and scatter over the remaining Comté and pecans.



PS - This salad goes rather well with low 'n' slow BBQ'ed pork belly.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Piccolo cherry tomato, watermelon and mint salad


A study came up with some alarming news recently. Having canvassed a cross-section of office workers, it was discovered that one in every six had had the same lunch, every day, for over two years.

Now, these sort of reports in the media can be two-a-penny. Frivolous morsels that only really serve to raise your eyebrows for a fleeting moment before you get on with the rest of the day. But my god! If there is any semblance of truth in this, is it possible that Barry, your colleague of good standing since 2016, has been eating the same cheese and pickle sandwich, every day, for the same period of time?!

The mind boggles. Because from where I stand, lunchtime provides the perfect opportunity to expand your horizons, explore new flavours and boldly go where no one has gone before.

And I don’t mind making a huge display of this virtue. If it means lugging a huge watermelon, a punnet of tomatoes and a melon baller in on the train, I’ll do it. Life is too short to be trapped by repetition and the mundane. Besides, I need the exercise.

The pairing of watermelon and tomato is by no means a strange combination. Both work well in salsas, a cool gazpacho or even as a sorbet. But due to their inherent fresh qualities, using them to knock up a quick, healthy salad is best. Especially on a hot summer’s day.

Because tomatoes and watermelon are naturally sweet and juicy, it is a good idea to go quite heavy on the seasoning with salt and pepper, to balance out things a touch. Adding a nice dollop of something sour is also a clever suggestion and for this salad, I chose some acidic quark. However, a scoop of ricotta or goat’s curd would really make this dish sing.

The mint and pistachio sprinkled over at the end are also important, as they add extra vigour and texture to the bowl. And plus, it all looks rather theatrical.

It might be best assembling this simple salad at home though, before coming to work. You don’t want Barry sitting next to you during its construction and getting all jealous now, do you?

This post first appeared on Great British Chefs, in association with Piccolo Cherry Tomatoes.

Piccolo cherry tomato, watermelon and mint salad

Ingredients

1/2 watermelon, medium-sized
250g of Piccolo tomatoes
1 bunch of mint, (small) leaves picked and roughly chopped
1 handful of pistachio nuts, (small) roughly chopped
sea salt
black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
goat's curd, quark or ricotta, to serve

Method

To begin, wash the tomatoes under a cold tap, drain well and cut each one in half.



Cut the watermelon into two wedges and using a melon baller, scoop out roughly twenty balls. Now, avoiding the black seeds is tricky and with some of the balls, you may have to flick some of them out using a small paring knife.

Mix the sliced tomatoes, watermelon and half the mint in a bowl and season with salt and black pepper, according to taste. Personally, I think extra pepper works well.

Divide between two bowls and drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil. Add a generous spoonful of goat's curd, quark or ricotta to the side and finish by sprinkling over the chopped pistachio and remaining mint.


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Recipe Graffiti


A few weeks ago, I was having a mooch along the estuary at Leigh on Sea, walking my dog and walking off some rather splendid winkles from Osborne Bros; when suddenly I spotted the graffiti above, in a hut on the promenade. Now, I have seen all sorts of scrawl on walls in my time. Most of it rather rude and offensive. And blatantly untrue. So, it was refreshing to see something helpful and positive for a change. A recipe for a vegan chili (sic) no less, that must have been feverishly dashed out with a sharpie. Maybe under cover of darkness and with a bead of sweat dancing upon a top lip. All whilst juggling some onions. Activism of this sort can take it out of you, so well done the brother or sister for putting their neck on the line. To stick it to the man and to promote a healthy, virtuous diet.

I even like to think they had a look out. A someone else, who kept an eye on that black corridor, peppered by street light.

'C'mon maaan. Hurry up. There's some dude walking our way. Get it done. Get it dooooonnnee man.'

A bit like Neil from the Young Ones. Yes, I can picture them now, both running off together, into the distance, high fiving and swinging a plastic bag around. Before stopping to pick up the contents that spilled out. I wonder who they were? Do you know?

The recipe itself is, IMHO, slightly off the mark. There are a couple of glaring mistakes. So I decided to test it out and add a few tweaks of my own. Here is the result of my findings:


To start, it's a fairly simple recipe and a cheap one too. Even when shopping at the very tres posh Waitrose for my ingredients, the total came to £3.78. Not taking into account some of the store cupboard stuff I already had.


The first challenge for anyone encountering this dish, is the liberal use of sweet potato. I know many people who would rather pluck out their own eyeball than eat this bright orange tuber. But they are strange and I hold no truck with this spud. In fact, I love it.


I went for fresh tomatoes, as seemingly per instruction. Of course, there is no reason as to why you couldn't use tinned toms. There is a very good reason not to use ceramic knives though. Although for while they can be extremely sharp, you WILL snap the tip off within five minutes of using one.


Kidley beans, kidley beans, you just gotta love kidley beans. Seriously, I don't know why I don't eat more of them. Or wait. Maybe it's because they taste faintly dusty and earthy. But pulses are good for you and we should all eat more good stuff kids.


Peppers, yes, peppers are a good shout for this recipe. And onions too. Though in the running order of things, they should have come first. For as we all know, onions and peppers TAKE TIME TO COOK. (This was a school boy error on my part also).


The screaming, glaring horror of this recipe though has to be the amount of garlic required. Half a clove. Half. A. Frigging. Clove. Which must be some hilarious joke because no-one sane uses half a clove of garlic when cooking. And this half a clove business has really undermined the credibility of the writer here. I am sorry. It must be said. I stuck in four. At least.


Redemption did come in the form of the inclusion of chipotle though. Hot, smokey, a little does indeed go a long way. I went for three teaspoons though. Because we like it things fiery around here.


One other thing. As I was putting this together, a nagging doubt kept resonating through my brain that seasoning with salt and pepper alone, would not be enough to lift this dish. On tasting, it needed some more 'Va-va-voom.' So I whacked in a few teaspoons of Garam Masala. Sue me, hippies.


The biggest issue with the recipe however, was that it was all a touch too dry. Those sweet potatoes ain't gonna cook through properly in that gloop of fruit and beanz and under-cooked onions. You need to make it saucy guys. And I expect you'd prefer to make it saucy using vegetable stock. But I used beef. Cos...chili (sic).


The end result wasn't too bad. For someone who eats rather a lot of meat (IT'S MY JOB DAMMIT) it is good to find different and inspiring ways to inject vegetables into my system. And to be fair, this chili (sic) was pretty damn delicious. Although if you don't like sweet potatoes, you will hate it.


Finished with cheese and parsley and served with rice, I'd say whoever did scrawl this recipe on that there hut by the seaside, hadn't done a bad job really. I'd even go as far to say that you should keep doing this, whoever you are.

Yes, seep on plugging with the recipe graffiti.

There could be a book in this. And like I said, it's a lot more pleasant than some of the stuff you see daubed out there.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Cowabunga BBQ, London and Essex


This really is just a quick one, to turn heads onto a little street food outfit I stumbled across last week. Picture the scene, insofar that I am walking down Hoxton Street and currently replaying the Verve's Bittersweet Symphony in my head and on my headphones. It's a sort of a given that whenever you stroll through this particular thoroughfare, you have to adapt the loose limbed and slightly aggressive pace that Richard Ashcroft adopts in the video. Zoning out, you just have to stare ahead, maniacally. Like you're fooking mad fer it and slightly mad too. It helps if you have the leather jacket, high cheekbones and soft padded Hush Puppies. But if you don't, no matter. On that particular day, I was dressed in a floral t-shirt, flip flops and jean shorts - jorts or sheans? - and made sure that I shoulder bumped past at least three people. Without even saying sorry or anything.

The music was echoing as I did so, those triumphant strings building up through to the chorus and refrain, as I whispered under my breath:

'No change, I can't change, I can't change, I change. But I am here in my mold, I am here in my mold. No change *glances* Cowabunga. Cow-waaah-wha-wha bunga. Cowabunga. Cowbunga. Cowa....'

Cowabunga?

What's this Cowabunga? OK, it was the name that caught me first but when I saw the words 'Dairy Cow Beef' - that's what really stopped me in my tracks.

Of course, there are burger vans and stalls aplenty in this big city of ours and ordinarily, I might have just marched on by, channeling Richard. However, just on those three words alone, my interest was piqued. The smell of sweet meat sizzling away also played a part.

I asked the guy behind the counter, who's name is Scott by the way, if he was cooking with Galician meat and he replied 'No mate, this is British. Well, I get it from Yorkshire.' Again, I had heard of some restaurants starting to use beef from retired UK dairy cattle on their menus but to see a street-food stall using it, sounded fairly implausible. If not slightly dodgy. Given the state of some those aforementioned burger merchants

Scott went on to explain - 'I use brisket mostly, with a few other secret cuts and ingredients. But the main point for me using it, is that it is an ethical source of meat. Dairy cows in the past would simply get culled and wasted. But with a bit of extra care and attention, they can be kept on grass, live a bit longer and as a result, you get a lot more flavour.'

After that I was sold and decided to go for a 'Dirty Cow' - buoyed by the addition of burnt end brisket chilli and pickled red onions.

'You'll need napkins,' Scott grinned and he wasn't wrong. He wasn't wrong about the taste either. The burger could have been hidden under the morass that was piled on top but it stood out quite quickly. Intense, juicy and almost gamey, it certainly packed a punch and I would say that for some, though it might take getting some used to.

Personally, I thought it was very good though. Extremely good. Too good. Especially the sloppy chilli.

So good that I was very tempted to order another one. That would have put my Richard game right off though. Wandering off up Hoxton Street. Wobbling from side to side. So I didn't.

Hailing from Essex (and hence my extra interest) Cowabunga have only been trading for a couple of months but have plans to pop up here and there across East London and God's Own County. Keep an eye out for them via their Instagram page here.

I am just wondering when they're going to roll out the pizza oven. And if you don't get that, you never grew up watching children's TV in the 80's. Which is a shame.


Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Essex Fine Food Show - May 12th & 13th, 2018


BREAKING NEWS

In roughly under a fortnight's time, I am going to be doing a stint at the Essex Fine Food Show, donning my presenters hat and taking charge of the 'Local Chef's Stage'. Basically, this involves running maniacally around the place, with a microphone in hand. Asking various Essex based chefs questions, whilst they cook on stage. Talking to the audience, cheekily asking to see the contents of their bags. And generally filling the air with a bit of the ol' banter.

Not too unlike the sort of thing that Keith Chegwin used to do. Bless him.

And whilst the prospect fills me with excitement; in equal measure, there is also an element of fear and dread. You do have to be careful with the general public and a scrambled brain can send you off into orbit and bring you back down to Earth with a bump. Sometimes landing you in a veritable lion's den. When I say things like that, I am always reminded of an old conversation that a friend of friend once dug themselves into.

When talking to a complete stranger.

AN AWKWARD CONVERSATION

'Aw, how long have you got to go then?'

'Pardon?'

'You're pregnant, yes? Can't be too much longer now!'

*pause*

'I am not pregnant.'

*pause*

'Oh! I am sooooo sorry! I really didn't mean to cause offence!'

*pause*

'It's just that my sister is heavily pregnant and you are nearly as big as she is.'

So no. Nooooooo. You gotta be careful out there. But I should be fine. Nerves are good before a performance - daaaarlink - and I would never, ever drop a clanger like that. Seriously, it wasn't me.

SO, WHAT'S OCCURRING?

By way of giving you the lowdown, this food show based at the resplendent Chelmsford Racecourse, is in it's second year now; working as warm up to the larger Essex Food and Drink Festival that takes place at Temple Cressing, in July. Actually, suggesting that the show is simply a precursor isn't entirely fair. With a host of masterclasses, pop-ups, cooking demos, cocktails and the best artisan fare in the region on offer, it has all the makings of an excellent day out and it should go from strength to strength. Just have a goosey-gander at the exhibitors alone.

IT'S ONLY BLOODY JAMES AND JOHN!

However, we must not forget to mention the fact that James Martin and John Torode - those strident titans of televisual cooking - will be in the house, on the Verstegen Stage. With flowing locks and deft swishes of spoons and blades, they will no doubt be stalking the stage like rock gods, whipping the crowds up into a frenzy and throwing their blancmange all over the shop. The mucky pups. Thank goodness for their Home Ec crew is all I can say!

James and John
COMPETITION TIME

I have been given a pair of tickets to both James' and John's afternoon sessions - Saturday and Sunday, respectively - starting at 3PM. If you would like to be in with the chance of winning the tickets, simply leave a comment under this post. And I will pick two at random! And no, you can't decide on which one you want to go to. Unless you want to *wink wink* slip me a brown envelope. (Note to organisers - I would never really do this. Really.)

Winners will be announced next Wednesday, at 5PM sharp and the tickets will be sent registered post the next day. Or you could collect from me in person, from...

THE LOCAL CHEFS STAGE

Having read all this wonderful and thrilling news, you are probably more concerned with hearing what will be going on with the Local Chefs Stage, in which yours truly will be appearing. Yes? No?

What do you mean 'No'??

Well anyway, this year's sponsor is Dan Hull Prepared Foods, who are based in Danbury, and do a stonking ranch of delicatessen goods. Such as terrines, charcuterie and handmade salads. Dan the man himself, will be leading a session on both days. Along with Mick Binnington, Head Chef at The Windmill in Chatham Green; Adam Townsend, Head Chef at The New London Restaurant in Chelmsford; and last but no means least, David Innes, Master Butcher, who has worked previously at Jimmy's Farm, among many other places. All four are great characters, with a lot of knowledge to share and the onus of course, will be on food and fun; with plenty to sample and scoff at the end.

Please do form an orderly line though. Bun fights are not allowed at the Essex Fine Food Show and I will call security if things get out of hand.

Clockwise from top left - Dan Hull, Mick Binnington, David Innes and Adam Townsend

It would be great to see you all there, for some moral support.

Mum? Dad? I am talking to you by the way.

Please return my calls.