Pear, ginger and garlic pork – AUTUMN IS HERE

29 Oct

Autumn is totally here…well it was then 18c happened over this week and my face dropped like a lead weight. I have shut up over the entire summer about how hot it has been and let the sun worshippers have their fun but when is it my go? When is it Charlie’s time to shine? My coat, hat, scarf and boots are staring forlornly out of the window waiting for the temperature to drop and i know just how they feel. Coupled with my current weightloss adventure making me utterly miserable i thought i would whip up something low cal, comforting but with a real autumnal edge.

Drum roll please

Pear and ginger with pork, mash and kale! Duh nurrrrrrr.

Sweet, light sauce with loads of veggies paired with a lean cut of pork, mashed potatoes and the American vegetable sweetheart, the humble kale.

You will need

  • Two pork loins (or chops or whatever you have really, i have some lovely loin in the freezer so defrosted that)
  • Two pears chopped (or apples if you prefer) mine were very soft and broke down, go for something a little less ripe if you prefer something that holds its shape better.
  • One medium onion chopped
  • Two medium carrots chopped
  • Two garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1.5 tablespoons of honey
  • One tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Inch or so of fresh ginger, grated
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • About 250ms of boiling water
  • Seasoning

In a bowl mix the ginger, garlic, hot sauce, honey, lemon, salt, pepper and water. Mix and leave to one side

In a griddle pan or similar fry the pork until it is sealed on each side, remove and set aside.

To the pan add the vegetables and pear and sautee for a few minutes to soften then re-add the pork and tip over the sauce.

Leave to simmer for a good 20 mins or so until reduced and carrots soft enough to eat (i like mine pretty hard)

Serve with mash and steamed kale


As you can see my picture taking and presentation skills are lacking…still

Mackerel pate – Ultimate fish paste.

18 Oct

Growing up in a large family, sandwiches for school lunch were usually full of exciting various types of “paste”. Those tiny jars of non descriptive pink spread were a regular occurrence between two slices of bread and you would think i would now regard any reminder of the taste to be a real turn off for me.

“Paste” doesn’t fill me full of confidence that there is actually any meat in this

However, just like tinned tomato soup, turkey burgers and pop tarts there is a tiny little space in my heart for paste (they really didn’t think about the name did they?) and when i come across something that tastes similar i am all over it…the exception to this is course meat pate, i think paste ruined me for pate at an early age.


Step forward the humble smoked mackerel pate, a Christmas favourite as a starter or something i like to chow down on in front of the telly with an entire loaf of bread on a Saturday night. Its relatively healthy if you watch what you are putting in (i am on a weight loss kick at the moment so this sort of thing is suddenly important) but still tastes rich and indulgent so you don’t have to worry too much if the idea of “low fat” makes you shake with fear.


There are thousands of recipes for mackerel pate but this is my favourite.

You will need:

  • 4 smoked mackerel fillets
  • Tablespoon of horseradish sauce or fresh horseradish if you can find it
  • Sweet pickles to taste (i used about six, could have taken more, i make my own sweet pickles see here how you can too)
  • Fresh dill to taste(or dried if you have it lying around)
  • Tablespoon of crème fraiche (i used half fat and you can’t tell the difference)
  • Tablespoon of sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Melted butter – enough to cover the pate a couple of mls

Put all the ingredients into a blender (bar the butter) and pulse until smooth. Put the mixture into ramekins and pour over the melted butter. Place in the fridge to set and serve with toasted sourdough bread and salad.


I had mine with a wedge of home-made pork pie and apple butter. That night my dinner was better than everyone elses…fact.

Ghost Hare Chilli

27 Sep

Briiiight eyes, burning like fiiiiiire i hummed before trying one of Bath Ales newest chilli offering (you can read about their chilli cider and phenomenal hot sauce on their blog here Its a fantastic porter with a good chilli punch, not for the faint hearted or the “i don’t like spicy food” brigade. Of course as usual within minutes of trying my first bottle i was coming up with recipe ideas (a glutton at heart), the vanilla ice-cream float was a mixed success but ideally i though this would really shine in a decent chilli.

Its a proper Saturday night in recipe that needs to be cooked low and slow and served with either boiled rice or my personal favourite, all over some tortilla chips. Add sour green, guacamole and salsa for a really indulgent dinner on the sofa or offering for a few friends paired with a good selection of light beers (i am having mine with the Wiper and True Red Orange)

As usual i feel the need to put in my disclaimer that i am not claiming this is authentic but it always wins in the taste department as far as i am concerned.


You will need

500g beef steak (stewing steak is fine, you can use minced beef if you prefer but this is special)

two medium onions

Tomato paste

Kidney beans

Can of tinned tomatoes

One bottle of Ghost Hare, i got mine from those lovely chaps at Brewers Droop on Gloucester Road but be quick, its a limited run!

One fresh chilli

For the seasoning (you won’t need all of it but you can keep the rest for next time)

Tsp ground cumin

Tsp oregano

Tsp garlic powder

Tsp smoked paprika

Tsp cumin seeds

Tsp chilli flakes

Tsp cocoa powder

Tsp parsley

2 Tsp brown sugar

Cinnamon stick

Salt and pepper

Mix everything but the cinnamon stick together


Chop the beef into good sized chunks, roll in flour and fry in oil until nice and brown, remove from the pan and put to one side. Chop the onions and add them to the pan and fry until translucent. Add in your chopped fresh chilli and cook through a little further adding a teaspoon of your spice mixture to the mix. Add a tablespoon of the tomato past and cook for a further few minutes.

Re-add your beef, stir well and add a few tablespoons of your spice mixture. You have to work by smell here but go easy, you can always add more but not take out less and remember the beer has chilli in it…speaking of beer, take a swig, pour in the bottle and save yourself the dregs at the end for a reward. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by about half. Taste the the sauce and add spice according to taste

Add your beans, cinnamon stick and tomatoes, bring to a rolling boil then put into an oven about 120c for at least 3 hours (i try and go for 6) or chuck it into a slow cooker.

Check it every few hours and give it a stir.

Take it out of oven after cooking and pull the beef apart with forks (or leave the chunks whole if you prefer)



Taxidermy Seminar with Dig Haushizzle and Kim Zoe Wagner

19 Sep

Taxidermy has fascinated me for years and years. I can almost trace it back to one of the rare times my father took me out to London to see the Natural History Museum. I adored pushing my nose up to the glass looking at the exotic, dead eyed creatures within their tanks in various states and poses. I contacted a gentleman who did taxidermy when i turned 18 to ask about doing a taxidermy course, they were incredibly hard to find 10 years ago and usually up in the North so the dream of learning the art was never realised. I have collected some pieces for myself, a decaying fox called Mr Bimble (or Mr Binnable if you are one of my friends who never understood my fascination for stuffed animals), a French Partridge, a fox brush and various wings, antlers and bone but i could never look at any of it and proudly declare “i know how to make that”. (If you would like to help me realise my dream of learning to do this properly, i have set up a Gofundme page )

Seriously, face only its mother could love… and me

Imagine my surprise and glee when a friend posted on my Facebook wall that Bristol “oddities” shop Dig Haushizzle    were going to run two taxidermy courses by the wonderful Kim Zoe Wagner one small, seminar style session for £25 with a full demonstration and a second “hands on” course for £185. Sadly as a lowly temp on a meagre wage i had to opt for only the seminar but i was not disappointed.

The shop was packed with mostly women (women seem to have taken over the scene, no longer are you taking Mr Ruffles the pet dog to a middle aged man in a flat cap to stuff but a nice lady instead) with a few men and boyfriends all clutching a complimentary drink in one hand and a notebook in the other eager to start. Kim introduced herself and went straight into explaining how to expertly skin, gut, prepare, and stuff the two magpies that she had on her table.

You can see me right at the front with the hair

I won’t go into great detail about the process here because there are far better places to find this information but i am happy to say that another session is going to run according to the guys at Dig Haushizzle (you can book here  for the 8th of November) and i can highly recommend anyone to go who has a vested interested or a passing fancy to the world of taxidermy and how it is created.

Bristol Burlesque Festival

15 Aug

I interviewed the talented and bodaious Tuesday Laveau (@TuesdayLaveau) about the upcoming Bristol Burlesque Festival, where it started, what to expect and where is it going? Buy your tickets here for three full nights of booty shaking, tassel twirling, heel slamming neo burlesque from some of the biggest names in the UK and beyond.

So Tuesday, how did the festival start?

The festival was created by myself and Bristol based Burlesque Dancer/Producer Tiger Tiger (@robot_tiger) in 2012. We both had each been producing shows for a number of years prior. She created big theatrical productions and I produced tiny down and dirty bar shows, so we figured we’d combine our talents and create one hell of a show. Our goal was to showcase the awesome talent in the Burlesque scene in Bristol and the South West expanding out to the awesome Burlesque that is happening worldwide. Tiger Tiger stepped down this year to focus on her writing, and Dis Charge (@DDischarge)stepped up in to the role of co-Producer. This year, we are so proud to feature performers from London, Liverpool, Dublin, Belfast, Paris and San Antonio, Texas!

What distinguishes you from other burly shows/festivals?

We’re wild! We feature an array of performers and our goal is to celebrate the weirdly beautiful and the beautifully weird. Our audiences come from all over the country, all ages and the feedback that we get is that they love the variety of performers that share our stage under the glittery umbrella of Burlesque. We also have a full day of workshops to suit and interest everyone from hula hooping to balloon pop striptease Saturday 11 October at Pink Kitten Dance School.

Well i am already excited, what can we expect to see at this year’s show?

Beautiful bump n grinders, Bristolian Booty Shakers, Blonde Goddess Khandie Khisses @KhandieKhisses, Comedy Duos, Drag Queens, and our inimitable hostess Rubyyy Jones! (@rubyyyjones). Performers for this year’s festival also include fabulous performers from across the UK as well as overseas

What has been the response to your lineup so far?

Overwhelming! Tickets are selling fast and the overall attitude from everyone involved: performers, stage managers and our beautiful audience, is one of total excitement. It’s going to be three days of pure badassery

The festival relies on the support of the local community – how supportive has the Bristol scene been?

Bristol has one of the warmest, funniest, most talented group of women and men that you could ever hope to work with. I’ve travelled the world dancing and it’s always a pleasure to work in Bristol.

Keema curry with peas

13 Aug

A year ago I would have turned my nose up at the idea of curry made with minced meat, “surely” i would have said “it’s just a messed up spaghetti bolognese?”. Thank goodness my housemate made some as i was leaving to see family last Christmas and i caught a whiff of subtly spiced, spicy curry and hastily shovelled a forkful of it in my mouth as i was running out of the door. Since then i have had cravings that came to a head when chatting on twitter and someone mentioning that it is a great way to use up lamb mince if you don’t want kofta kebabs or moussaka.

When running my eye down the recipe sat at work i was pretty happy to realise that i had most of the stuff i needed in my store cupboard, this is why i bang on all the time about having a drawer full of herbs and spices, it makes dinner so much easier to tackle when you are skint.

wpid-imag0325_burst003_2.jpgApparently this is quite an authentic recipe and you can really control the level of spice if you are making this dish for the faint of heart. I added one of my home grown chillies and my lips were still tingling a good hour later. Be warned!

You will need

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 2 -5 finger chillis (depending on your heat preference), chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch piece of ginger root
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 500g very lean lamb/beef mince (lamb is more traditional but beef is cheap, or use a vegetarian substitute)
  • 1 small cup frozen peas


  1. Roast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant and then grind in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder.
  2. Melt the butter with the oil in a large pan and add the onion, cloves, cinnamon, and peppercorns. Cook, stirring occasionally, over a medium high heat until the onion is well browned.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of the cumin/coriander mix, the garam masala, and the turmeric and fry for about 30 seconds whilst stirring.
  4. Add the tin of tomatoes and break them up with a spatula. Peel and mince the garlic and ginger and add to the pan with the chillis.
  5. Cook the mixture over a medium heat for about 10 minutes
  6. Add the minced meat and break up and mix into the mixture. Cover and cook over a low simmer for 35-45 minutes, adding the peas 10 minutes before the end. Check the seasoning and add more salt and garam masala if required.
  7. Serve with fluffy rice and a nice naan bread


Recipe adapted from

The Grace – Gloucester Road

6 Jul

I never really bothered with the Robin Hood Retreat in the past, it always looked too gastro-pubby for our liking and also didn’t allow smoking in the garden. Very quietly one day the doors closed, the sign came down and builders moved in leaving us wondering what was going on. Eventually through some twitter searching I was delighted to find out that the pub had been taken over by Zazu’s Kitchen I am assuming off the back of their successful opening of The Green Bank over in Easton.


With St Paul’s carnival happening down the road (I can’t bare it, too many people crammed into a tiny space) I thought it the perfect weekend to pop down with a few friends and sample what The Grace had to offer. First impressions were friendly, attentive bar staff, the interior hadn’t changed too much but they had changed the colour scheme giving the space a much lighter feel than the previous reds and greens. They had a good range of beers on tap, we both had a Hank by Tiny Rebel and got change from £8 which in this day and age is quite the feat! I noted they had a good range of ciders, served Freedom Lager (organic if you care about that sort of thing) and have Arbour Triple Hop too. They stoked my absolute favourites Wiper and True bottles in the fridge which in itself means I will be back! We retreated to the garden and were really impressed with update. Plenty of seating, lovely apple trees and flowers around the borders and a real suntrap. I also loved that there was seating for larger groups, something you sometimes have to compromise on if a few of you are heading out for the day.


Eventually hunger striked as is the way when you have been sat in the sun for a few hours we decided to order a few bits from their new “small plates” menu. One of the party had pork scratchings ordered which were made fresh specially (they had run out but it wasn’t too much trouble). We then picked the roasted potatoes which came with a garlic aioli and a lovely chutney, the beetroot salad which was lovely and fresh, the chicken and lemon skewers which were served with a spicy harrissa yogurt and tried some mini pizza’s too. We went for salami and fennel, ham and walnut and the goats curd all of which were served promptly by lovely staff. Everything tasted really fresh and was the perfect sitting out accompaniment. Here is the menu that they tweeted for a better idea



The only issues we had were that the beers kept coming on and off (I ordered an Arbour which wasn’t right but was swapped with no fuss at all) though I would expect teething issues with a pub that has only been open 3 days today. The waitresses were also left wondering around with plates of food a lot as there was no system until later in the evening to show them who had ordered what outside. Eventually we were given a rather charming old Oxo tin which did the job.

I highly recommend heading down before everyone realises how nice the garden is!

Find The Grace here on twitter

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