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

Upside down, pineapple “your grandmother made this” cake

22 Jun

Yesterday I bought a pineapple to take to a barbecue. Last year i discovered that putting pineapple on the grill after you cooked up some pork belly was bloody delicious and was looking forward to repeat performance. However, by the time i got around to it the coals were cold and i wasn’t that hungry anyway so back home it came. Sat with a hangover i knew i wouldn’t use the pineapple for anything, i don’t like it in sweet and sour dishes, i wouldn’t use it on pizza and my life is too short to be making smoothies.

Of course the only option left was an upside down cake, something i could attempt to do in a hungover state (though if you are worried that you shouldn’t be drunk in charge of a knife use tinned fruit). A splash of rum will sort out your hair of the dog requirements.

You may want to practice at making the pineapple lovely and neat, i however have no flare for presentation as the pictures will tell. I joke that friends would enjoy my food even more if i blindfolded them.

You will need

butter (for greasing)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 a ripe pineabpple, sliced into rings and cored or 6 slices canned pineapple in juice (plus 3 tablespoons of the juice)
11 glace cherries (approx. 75g total weight)
100 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100 grams soft butter
100 grams caster sugar
2 large eggs
Splash of dark rum if wanted

- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter and flour a tin (go for a pie dish or similar)
– Slice the pineapple (or fish out the rings) and put into a pain with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar. Cook and caramelise the rings and add a splash of rum if you want to.
– Once browned, place the rings in the bottom of the tin and fill the rings with the glace cherries and then pop them in the spaces in between.
– Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, butter, caster sugar and eggs into a food processor and run the motor until the batter is smooth or pop it all in a bowl and mix (i never bother with creaming the butter and sugar first etc, as far as i can tell it makes no difference and the eggs are less likely to curdle).
– Bake for 30 minutes, then ease a spatula around the edge of the tin, place a plate on top and turn it

Look at it in all its pineapply glory

Look at it in all its pineapply glory

Bringing 70's realness

Bringing 70’s realness

Mini mezze for two

19 May

The sun has got his hat on, those of you with gardens are in them (inaudible grumbling) and those of us without want food that can be packed up and taken alfresco to the park and hope we don’t accidentally sit in sex litter (looking at you Castle Park). Allow mezze to fill that picnic hole and depending on what you fancy making you can be ready to go in an hour or so.

Here are a few dishes I whipped up on a Monday night, there are plenty of other recipe ideas out there, BBC food is a good start for something simple. Everything i used can be picked up at your local shop too.


You will need:

1 tin of chickpeas, drained
3 tablespoons of tahini (its a sesame paste, large corner shops should have it and the supermarkets will do, if you cant fine it use seasame oil, or at a proper pinch smooth peanut butter is almost there).
Juice of half a lemon
1 – 2 cloves of garlic either chopped fine or grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons of warm water

Dump everything into a blender, blend until about smooth. Beauty of hummus is you can mix whatever you like in there, I like to drizzle mine with sweet chilli sauce but you can mix in some roasted garlic and peppers or fresh herbs, go mad, never bother buying it from the supermarket again.

Baba Ganoush

Aubergines get a hard wrap…and quite frankly they are a bit gross, slimy insiders, rubber skin and hilarious to look at but very good for you and very tasty. Here is a simple, filling dip that also makes a lovely pasta sauce or sammich filling too.

You will need:

3 aubergines
Juice from half a lemon
1 tsp cumin
1 tbls tahini (optional)
1 – 2 garlic cloves
Fresh parsley

Turn up the grill and pop in your aubergines. Prick the skin a few times and then wait for the skin to get crispy and the insides really soft, it will take about 20 mins with the aubergines being rotated a few times though if its taking too long i find slicing them in half and popping them back under the grill for a few minutes to soften.

Whip them out and use a spoon to scrape the flesh into a blender with the rest of the ingredients, whip till almost smooth and dive in there.

Quick, cheating lamb tagine.

This is not authentic but it can be whipped up in about an hour and is a nice meaty addition to your picnic/garden meal that is pretty nice cold (if you ask me). Otherwise chuck it in for a few hours or in a slow cooker to get those flavours going.

About 500g of diced lamb (see your local butcher if you have one for something cheap and cheerful like neck)
Either a tin of tomatos or a few, diced fresh ones
A chopped onion
1 table spoon of tomato paste
1 – 2 cloves garlic either chopped or grated
1 tsp cumin
1/2 inch grated ginger
1 stick of cinnamon
Fresh parsley
Fresh coriander
Juice of half a lemon
1 or 2 chillies depending on how much of a wuss you are

Fry off the lamb in a pan (i use my cast iron tagine but i appreciate not everyone has such generous ex boyfriends), once sealed throw in the onions and cook them down until soft and sexy. Add in the tomato paste and cook until distributed.

Add the chilli, garlic, ginger cumin and lemon juice and cook fora few minutes, add the tomatoes and cook on a high heat until bubbling. Turn the heat down, add half the fresh herbs, seasoning and cover. Simmer for about an hour or until the lamb is tender. Add the rest of the fresh herbs before serving.


I cheated and bought flat bread because it was Monday and i don’t have time for that.


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