Monday, 30 September 2013

Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food



This post was first published on Great British Chefs blog.

It sort of saddens me to acknowledge this but I remember a time when pubs weren’t particularly synonymous with food. Pubs that I used to frequent in my youth (or yoof, as I like to say) were places to carouse, cavort and exercise your jaw whilst depleting grey matter on chemical ‘Export strength’ lager. They weren’t really places to go to eat. If you did ever become peckish, sustenance usually came in the form of a packet of pork scratchings, tossed casually across the bar. Or, if you were feeling brave or drunk enough, there was the option of buying from the glass cabinet of doom; which usually contained a single, flaccid pasty that had been kept warm and alive by a single light bulb. For about 5 weeks.

I like to feel that I have grown up now and it certainly feels like pubs have grown up too. Fostered by the gastro pub revolution, declining wet sales and an emphasis on family dining, going to your local for something to eat rather than drink is very much the norm these days. And if you find a convivial boozer that goes just that little bit further with their menu, well personally I often find that to be the better option than going to a stuffy, formal restaurant. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down in a country pub and ordered skate wing with brown butter and capers which is a fairly accomplished dish. Simple yes but so easy to get wrong.  In my case it was lovely and the interesting point is that more and more publicans and chefs are starting to push the boundaries, blurring the lines between fine dining and traditional pub grub.


One pub in that regard that is going beyond the pale and hitting the lofty heights is of course The Hand and Flowers, the only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars.  And steering that ship is Tom Kerridge, the chef’s chef from the West Country. If there was ever an ebullient beacon for raising the game in pubs across the land it would be this guy. And after watching his new cookery show ‘Proper Pub Food’ - which aired on BBC2 last week - it is quite easy to see why the Beeb commissioned the series. Because the big man has got big love for food.


Kicking off with a remit of presenting pub classics that are simple yet full of strong flavours, Tom hit the sweet spot straight away with his slow cooked lamb and pommes boulangere, or Baker’s potatoes. Through puncturing the shoulder of lamb with whole cloves of garlic to layering slices of onion, thyme and spuds to pouring wibbly-wobbly stock all over the top, the premise looked great from the off. His suggestion of going for a long, long walk whilst it cooked was well advised as I can imagine the temptation to sneak a mouthful as smells envelope the kitchen would surely be too great. The reward for patience, so it seems, is fantastically succulent meat and crisp, amber, slivers of spuds. I physically dribbled when he served it up.


A visit to a local brewery came next, with a short overview of the beer they brewed, showing off a summer beer and a dark porter. Being a stout man myself, in the conventional sense, I would happy drink and cook with both. But Tom decided that the darker, richer beer would be great to use in an alternative version of moules marinière. The fact that he was cooking it outside at a BBQ event whilst it precipitated down from a great height probably also influenced his decision. Still the people that queued up, all curiously named ‘Chief’, looked very happy indeed. Apart from one hubby who made his wife fetch his food and was embarrassed for being ever so shy.


Back in the kitchen and in keeping with the one pot theme, Tom then showed us how to rustle up a chorizo and pollock stew. After finely chopping some onions, resulting in some on-screen weeping, he also showed us a tender side too. “Real don’t cry or eat quiche. I like quiche,” he uttered, almost whispering. By doing so Tom sort of accidently opened up at that point and revealed an inner part of his soul. As if he had been picked on in the past for his passion of egg based pastry tarts. Which made me feel quite indignant and righteous as I can’t stand quiche bullies. Luckily, the focus was quickly brought back to a warm, fragrant looking bowl of meat, fish and pulses with green spinach added in for extra healthy measure. And all was well again.


After that, Tom took us on a stroll down to Maltby Street market, the proper food lover’s proper food market, where everyone proclaimed to be noshers. Or in other words, they were fond of mountains of salt beef and pastrami, the greedy little beggars. The sandwiches from Monty’s Deli did look very good but I did like Tom’s twist back in the kitchen regarding pickling vegetables. I do love a pickle and pickle regularly at home but always end up in a malty sweaty mess after eating them so I think I will go with his recommendation of mellower white wine vinegar in future. Instead of using Sarsons own.


For the climax, Tom ended the show ended with plum fool shenanigans from gas canisters and a nifty trick when making custard. The biggest threat with custard is that it can turn into scrambled eggs in the blink of an eye. So Tom’s suggestion to pour the thickened sauce over clean freezer blocks to rapidly cool things down was inspired. This pudding was evidently inspired by Angel Delight, that cheap, after school treat that keeps the kids up way past their bedtime. And judging by the way the adults were whooping and laughing around the table, you’d be forgiven to think that they had more than their fair share of E numbers.

Which brings me to perhaps the only bugbear I have regarding Tom Kerridge’s ‘Proper Pub Food’. As a presenter and advocator of good, simple cooking, he does a fantastic job. Tom is a joy to watch in fact. But I did find the cookery show/lifestyle clichés a little bit irritating, which I suspect is more down to direction, rather than Tom himself. He is obviously a regular bloke (and this show was geared towards blokes) so it would have been good to have some more realistic touches, dotted about the show. For instance, that he mixed milk and cream in a nice pewter jug before pouring it in a pan annoyed the hell out of me. Why create the extra washing up Tom? Why not sling it all in the pan straight away? Because the food stylist said so?

Perhaps I am being picky though. Perhaps that is the proper way to do things. After all, if anyone knows how to do proper pub food, it’s going to be Tom Kerridge. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos and tomatoes
This summer has been a cracking summer for tomatoes. Far better than last year when the dreaded blight descended and laid waste to our garden crop. Its hard to describe what it feels like when you step out onto the patio in the morning and discover that some filthy fungus has destroyed your precious babies overnight. But just try to imagine a combination of Cliff Richard, the end of Watership Down and the realisation that you've been talking to someone for 10 minutes with a stringy booger hanging from your left nostril. That is the kind of deep rooted horror, despair and anguish I am talking about. It was horrible but like I said, this year has been very good and we are currently brimming with different varieties and shades of healthy, life-affirming fruit.

I am particularly happy because a rogue packet of seeds discovered at the bottom of a shoebox has introduced and yielded a brand new tomato, well one that I have never grown before anyway, which is the exciting and daring tomatillo. Curious little things are tomatillos. Rough research (Google) tells me that they were cultivated in Mexico and whilst being part of the same genus as tomatoes and the nightshade family, these green berries have a lot in common with physalis'sss. That equally curious orange fruit that comes wrapped in a papery husk and used for decoration on cheeseboards at Christmas time. Apparently tomatillos can be quite tricky to grow so to have some success is also exciting. I just stuck the seedlings in the ground and near our cherry tree and up they shot, flowering along the way. I must have the magic touch.

Once cut in half and tasted you can see the association with gooseberries as the flesh is quite dense and they lean more towards the sour rather than juicy sweet. As such, lots of recipes online call for relishes and salsas, which is hardly surprising given that they come from Meh-he-co (olé). So I simply took some, unwrapped them from their skins and blistered under a hot grill with some homegrown peppers, chillies and onion to impart a smokey flavour. It then took a quick blitz, a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of chopped coriander and in minutes I had a fiery, piquant sauce fit for a King. A King that might wear a sombrero at the dinner table for the occasion. That sort of King.

Unfortunately my forays into Mexican cuisine at home haven't ventured that far. I've made supermarket kit enchilladas and fajitas before, pseudo quesadillas with bread wraps and tried out a mole once or twice, from scratch. But more often than not chilli con carne reigns supreme because the twins do love a kidney bean. Actually, is chilli con carne even Mexican? Anyway, the main problem is that I often have to temper the spiciness for the sake of delicate palates. This side salsa seems to have solved the problem. A handsome dollop, a quick stir and boom, a Mariachi band dances the hot-step on my taste buds.

The tomatillos have all gone now and all I have left are bags and bags of green tomatoes which could possibly do the trick but I suspect they would make the salsa too watery, too anodyne. I might give it go though. Because who knows if I will ever be able to grow tomatillos again.

Tomatillo Salsa

10 tomatillos, cut in half (or green tomatoes???)
2 green peppers, cut in half
1 onion, cut in half
Variety of chillies (I used regular red nondescript ones and a finger chilli)
2 limes, cut in half
Large bunch of coriander, rough chopped
Salt and pepper

Method

Place the tomatillos, peppers, onion and chillies cut side down on a baking tray and place under a hot grill. Leave under for about 5 minutes, turning halfway through, until they begin to burn and blister. Take out and leave to cool slightly. Then place in a food processor to blitz. Add the lime juice with a squeeze and stir in the coriander. Season to taste and serve with most Meh-he-can foods (or whatever you fancy).
Garden produce
Not so juicy
Burnt
Salsa (olé)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Food Lovers Bucket List from Kenwood


Making lists of things to do before you die is perhaps a morbid and overly consuming activity but it is something us humans beans do and it is something that we do well. Our life on this lonely planet is a short one and therefore it's no wonder that many people strive to cram everything in. To seek the thrills and spills and experience all that life has to offer. Some do better than others, furiously so. Yet some are merely happy to paddle, drifting along with the ebb and flow. But I would say that everyone, or at least those who are lucky enough to have lived a long and healthy life, come towards the end, will have some sort of niggling doubt going on in the back of their heads. Why didn't I get around to doing that? Bugger............

My own personal terror is that on my deathbed, with all my dearly beloved standing around, weeping gently, with Celine Dion playing in the background, is that suddenly I might spring up and grab the nearest one. I can actually envision my scrawny, liver-spotted hands clutching at my son's collar and the confused look on his face as I lean in and whisper desperately into his ear before karking it, as they colloquially say. Unfortunately, my dear little boy with then be the focus of attention as the others look to him, asking what triumphant last words did I pass on. And Finlay will have to say, in totally bemused fashion:

"He said his only one regret was.... that he never ever ate a hotdog at a baseball game.......?"

And unless I get that sorted out soon, my legacy may well be spoiled for the rest of eternity.

Now, you might think that this is a rather odd (cod) philosophical start to proceedings. However when I tell you that bucket lists have been very much on my mind over the last few months, you might understand. For I was a contributor to the Food Lovers Bucket List by Kenwood which was released to much fanfare yesterday.

The challenge set by Kenwood, those purveyors of wedding present food processors that last for a lifetime, was to create a top 50 list of food inspired experiences we should try to tick off before we die. The panel consisted of a chef, a food writer, a restaurant critic, a baker and a cookery school owner. Oh and a blogger. It was all a bit like The Breakfast Club. And the job wasn't easy. For four hours we sat in a room and argued, dissected and analysed all kinds of ideas, passionately and ferociously. Thankfully things didn't descend into a full on bun fight, there was pretty much mutual agreement across the board. Although at one point I would have gladly shoved a croissant in William Sitwell's mouth just to keep him quiet for a minute or two (love you William!)

The main purpose of the list though was to try and achieve some balance throughout. To highlight simple yet enjoyable suggestions against the more grander possibilities. The bucket list is up for debate so do have a good look and get back to me if you feel that something is missing or is indeed amiss (and some people have already done that). 

Food is an emotive subject and I have to say, I did get some stick on Twitter yesterday for not fighting and promoting certain corners.

I am truly sorry for instance that I didn't fight hard enough for 'placing Hula Hoops on each finger and then eating one by one'. 

Because I agree. If you have never, ever done that, then you have never lived.


The Food Lovers Bucket List from Kenwood can be downloaded and scrutinised here


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Organic Onions: Sea Change or An Ill Wind?

Organic Onions
At the moment I am wading through tons and tons of organic food. Which is nice work, if you can find it but essentially I have agreed to take part in a campaign run by Organic. Naturally Different, an EU funded project that seeks to promote..... you've guessed it, organic food.

Now believe it or not, I do have some strong opinions about organic food and have been formulating the pros and cons in my head ever since the nice man from Ocado delivered and dumped a load of shopping bags on our doorstep. But I have to be honest though, I am having problems with presenting a cohesive argument that clearly expresses my attitudes towards organic food. It's like I have got the proverbial angel and devil on my shoulders and they are spitting blood at each other.

"It's better for the planet Danny."

"Piss off, it's too expensive."

"But think of the animal welfare."

"Stick it up your arse! It's too bloody expensive."

To be fair, I am leaning towards the more positive angle (or angel rather). I have not had an epiphany as such but the little voice urging me to make wholesale changes to the way I shop and buy food is getting louder and louder. At stake though is the simple fact of pure economics and personal finance, as it is with most people in this country. The cost of food is becoming a bigger and bigger issue these days. Coupled with the haves and have-nots, the maelstrom that is building, particularly in the media has been messing with my head. I have had nosebleeds thinking about it all but I will write about this again. I have to.

In the meantime though, in true indomitable FU style, I would like to discuss the matter of flatulence and a recent glaring and somewhat sulphurous observation. If I decide to make a concerted effort to try and buy more organic produce, am I prepared for the eruptions that will surely follow? Could we, as a family, suffer another catastrophic Saturday afternoon like last week? Am I prepared to ever endure that seething stench, ever again. Because Holy Mother of God, organic onions really make you fart.

A regular treat in our household is a plain old panade, a dish that comes in many guises but the principle ingredient is stale bread. Used to soak up the juices from a broth or perhaps glue together something more substantial like meatloaf, the bread normally forms the heart of something that is rustic and frugal. Being a big fan of Skye Gyngell and her book A Year In my Kitchen, I like to use her recipe of slow cooked onions, ladled over leftover bread, with added stock and grated cheese to make a hearty lunch on rainy afternoons. Over time, I have made changes of my own to the recipe. I cook the onions for a lot longer and I occasionally use beef stock rather than chicken and instead of brandy, I've been known to wastefully add a splash of Lagavulin. We like it and the kids love it.

Now onions are well known for their gaseous properties and as the solid base for many a meal, they are often the cause for the odd slip of trumpet or buttock wobbling guffage. "Oof, excuse me, them onions eh!" Faces turn red. We laugh, titter and sigh. But then we soon get over things. However, like I said, on Saturday, it was like the Grimethorpe Colliery Band had come trampling through the house.

The twins, as always, took great delight in their rumblings. When you are 5 nothing is quite as funny as a fart. Parp. Poompth. Fuuurt. Bllffffftht. All wondrous noises and watching a child giggle with delight is even more wondrous.  But when the foul stench of Hades is emitting from your daughter's bottom as she sits on your lap, well things don't become so hilarious anymore. I am still quite the child at heart and whenever the chance arises, I love doing a comic turn of controlled fluffing in the manner of Reeves and Mortimer's characters Le Corbussier et Papin. But when you can't control things, it all becomes quite disturbing. My wife will kill me for saying this but she has never been shy in the whizzpop department.  I think she let rip on our third date. Yet when the onions began to weave their interminable colonic magic, she laid the finger of blame squarely at me - "Danny! What the f*ck did you do with those onions?!"

It really was a horrific episode and no matter how many windows were opened on that cool autumn eve, the house still oozed with a perpetual, lingering miasma of rotten egg and boiled cabbage. So much so, that even writing this makes me feel kinda woozy thinking about it. The twins on the other hand want to know when Daddy is going to make 'fart soup' again.

So for the future, as well as considering the ethical and financial implications of organic food, I am going to have to take into account the physiological impact too.

Because I swear that Tesco's Value Onions have never, ever done that to us before.

Panade of slow-cooked onions with organic cheddar*
Serves 4

50g unsalted butter
5 yellow onions
1 and half tsp of caster sugar
salt and pepper
healthy splash of whisky or brandy
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of thyme
750ml beef stock

To serve
4 slices of stale bread (I prefer to use sourdough)
half a garlic glove
150gm of organic cheddar, grated

Method
Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with sugar and add a pinch of salt. Sweat gently for at least 45 minutes until very soft. The onions will become deep in colour as they caramelise.

When the onions are really soft, add the whisky or brandy and increase the heat to reduce and burn off the alcohol. Add the herbs and the beef stock. Reduce the heat to a medium and cook for another 10 minutes or so until the stock has reduced slightly. Remove the herbs.

Toast the slices of bread and rub with the garlic clove whilst still hot and place them slices into warm bowls. Ladle over the onion brother and sprinkle with the cheese. Finish with a healthy grinding of black pepper and serve piping hot.

*Of course, after reading about the inherent dangers of onions, you might not want to cook this. It is very nice though so perhaps you should also purchase some pegs when shopping for the ingredients. And remember, organic is best.

Chopped onions
Sweaty onions
Stale bread
Four soups
Panade of slow-cooked onions with organic cheddar

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Food Urchin Supper Club Returns



Just the other day, whilst I was sat in a jacuzzi and enjoying a Dirty Black Russian, someone asked me an intriguing question.

"Dan," he said. "Dan, whatever happened to that crazy and extremely popular supper club you used to run?"

The question caught me by surprise, I have to admit but after reflecting and pausing for a moment or two, this is what I had to say.

"Well Marcus," I said. "I've been out of the game for sometime now. It was my own decision by the way, this self imposed exile from supperclubbering. I just felt that I had.... lost my way. I needed some time out. But I have been busy, out there, out in the wilderness. Busy hunting, foraging, gathering and sleeping under stars. Busy working the land, sniffing the soil and going back to my roots. Busy tracking cloven hoof, rummaging through manure, focusing keen eye with bow and arrow. Busy stirring iron pots over log fires, crumbling ancient herbs and slurping from battered wooden spoons. I've been very, very busy. It has been a hobo-ish sort of existence but I am glad I took this sabbatical because I feel that I really have reconnected with food, with the seasons and with life all around. Now, having gone back to nature and with the knowledge I have accumulated, I am ready to face the world anew and afresh. I am ready to start cooking again."

Marcus stared back at me for a long, long time. A long, long, long, long time

And then he said "Dan, you don't arf talk a load of b*ll*cks."

Of course, he is right. Marcus is just a fictitious person. I don't even own a jacuzzi (although I am rather partial to a Dirty Black Russian). No, there isn't any other reason other than we've been busy doing all kinds of stuff. Some of the stuff I can't even seem to quantify or explain. Time seems to trickle through my fingers like golden syrup, poured from a can. I don't know where it goes. But we are back in business and we are trying to get the Food Urchin Supper Club back off the ground. Because quite simply, we do like doing them.

So here it is, the menu for the next FUSC which will be held on Sunday 29th of September at FU mansions in Hornchurch, Essex. Starting at 1:30PM.

Something to amuse your bouche

Roast tomato and pepper soup with chorizo and cobnuts.

Free range chicken, raised in Suffolk, braised in cider with herbs, root veg and ham hock.

Blackberry sorbet

Grandpa Beard's upside down pear and ginger cake with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Vegetarian mains option will be lemon, courgette and butternut squash lasagne and the soup to start will be sans chorizo.

Bread will come in the form of Veronica II sourdough and Somerset cider bread.


And as always, tap water will be free.

All for £25 a head. Bar-gin.

To reserve a space please email me at foodurchin@gmail.com or leave a comment. So bring your friends, bring your family and most importantly, bring your wine (leave a little bit for us so that we may slurp on the dregs at the end).  

Grandpa Beard's upside down pear and ginger cake (it is verrrry niiiiice)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Foraging, free food and fruity sponge puddings

 
This post first appeared on the Great British Chefs blog

Get your blackberry picking done before Old Nick gets in

For once, or for a long while at least, it seems that the glorious summer we have had this year has set up a bumper harvest for the coming autumn, especially with regards to wild food. By all accounts, the warm blast we had in late May and early June created perfect conditions for bushes and trees, encouraging them to flower abundantly. Coupled with further, unheralded days of sunshine and occasional doses of rain, the surrounding fields, parks, canal ways and pastoral roundabouts on busy highways should now be bursting with produce. And they are. Over the last few days I have been wandering around in a bit of a tizz looking at all the free stuff that nature suddenly has to offer. So much so, that I developed a crick in my neck.

At the moment I have my grubby eyes trained on a particularly laden pear tree that is situated in an alleyway I use to get to the train station. It actually overhangs from someone’s back garden, so there is a tricky question of legality. Pears found on the floor are fair game. Pears plucked with my fair hand would constitute as stealing or ‘scrumping’; which is a much nicer word. I do have a plan though, which is to traipse repeatedly up and down the alleyway with a tall scaffolding pole on my shoulder. If the police get called, I shall simply tell them that I am lost.


Given that foraging seems to be very much back on the agenda these days, it is interesting to gauge some of the reactions you get from the general public. Some people in my area definitely view fruit picking with suspicion. I found myself awkwardly explaining just the other day that I was collecting damsons and that the tree was actually on common ground. The interrogator in question wasn’t completely convinced as to what I was up to, given the proximity of the tree to his neighbour’s house. Neither had he heard of damsons before but after some laborious gesticulating, I think I managed to alleviate his concerns. His parting gesture went along the lines of “Well, as long as you’re not lifting Barry’s plums, that’s fine by me.”


Thankfully, with regards to blackberry picking, I have been pretty much left alone apart from the odd, curious dog walker. I am lucky enough to live next to some farmland; a semi-bucolic idyll where roaming, lolloping fields compete with the distant thunder of the M25 and the blackberry bushes that line the hedgerows are teeming. I’ve been going out practically every other day with a carrier bag. Occasionally I take the children along too, as they love bruising their fingers and lips vivid purple but they often come back yielding bags of dripping with juice due to clenched fists. So I tend to go by myself. Still, we have managed to amass nearly 5 kilos of bramble fruit so far. All of which currently sits in our chest freezer, alongside lighter bags of elderberries (lighter because they are fiddly to pick apart afterwards).

There are golden rules for foraging i.e. don’t pick too much fruit from a plant, leave at least a third for birds and it’s a good rule to abide by. But given the bounty of blackberries around at the moment, I would say that the gloves are off. Saying that, you might want to keep your Marigolds on, for fear of nettles, thorns and angry wasps. Whatever, I intend to keep hoarding for the time being. At least until Devils Spit Day on 29th September (otherwise known as Michaelmas). According to folklore, once ol’ Saint Nick has done his business on that day, all the wilted, musty blackberries will be no good for anything and there is an element of truth in that.

With all the blackberries I am collecting, plans are afoot to make lots of jams, crumbles, sauces and cordials but the biggest thrill at the moment is that I have recently acquired a wine-making kit so I really fancy making some of my own country brew. 

Then if I’ve got it all wrong about Barry’s plums, well, a bottle or two could come in handy as a gesture of goodwill. 

Syrup Sponge Pudding with Blackberries, Orange and Cinnamon


This recipe for a rather sinful rib-sticking pud was inspired by a dish created by Skye Gyngell, formally of Petersham Nurseries. Rather than use stem ginger and lemon though, I have gone for orange and cinnamon which in my option marries up nicely with the inherent woody spiciness of blackberries. I used a single, medium sized pudding bowl but this would go down well if you scaled down and used smaller, individual pudding bowls.

Serves 4
 
Ingredients
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g golden caster sugar
2 free range eggs
100g self-raising flour
Zest of 1 orange
Half a tsp of ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp of golden syrup
20 blackberries
Cream to serve

image
 
Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter your pudding basin thoroughly and set aside. Cream together the softened butter and sugar until pale and smooth and then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well each time. Sift in the flour and then gently fold into the mixture. Add the orange zest, cinnamon and a pinch of salt, continuing to fold until evenly mixed.

Place the blackberries in the base of the pudding bowl and drizzle the golden syrup over. Then spoon the sponge mixture on top. Cover the top of the pudding bowl with a round of foil, lightly greased with butter, stand on a baking tray and then place into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes until the sponge has risen and is cooked through. Test with a skewer in the centre, it should come out clean.


Run a knife around the inside of the pudding bowl and turn out onto the centre of a plate, Pour a generous amount of cream over and serve.


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Carbonaragate


People have such short memories.

They forget that around two years ago now, I appeared on the short lived BBC food quiz 'A Question of Taste' and impressed the entire nation with my rather superior food knowledge. At the risk of offending my lovely fellow team mates Kavey and Dan, who were rubbish quite frankly, if it wasn't for me, we would have lost (the comment about crumpets not withstanding).

So when I go online and tweet something silly like this: 


But be rest assured that I was simply making a joke. Of course I use egg yolks and egg yolks only when making a carbonara sauce. As well as bronze dye-extruded durum wheat dried pasta, the finest Guanciale known to man and the best Pecorino Romano that Aldi has to offer. And I always, always dress the pasta afterwards. The suggestion that I would ever, ever make a basic béchamel sauce, fry off some bacon bits with slivers of garlic and mix it with some boiled value range spaghetti is preposterous and I can't believe the food pedants of Twitter fell for it and castigated me. You know who you are.

Now that I've got that off my chest, I'd like to go back to perfecting another classic recipe if you don't mind.

Which is Shepherds pie.

With tinned corned beef, mashed sweet potato and Branston pickle.