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Toad in the hole in 4 easy steps


Toad in the hole in 4 easy steps

Posted on 09 November 2011 by Chris Ford

Toad in the hole in 4 easy steps

Toad in the hole in 4 easy steps


Preparation and cooking times

Prep 20 mins
Cook 40 mins


  1. Make the batter: Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip flour into the large mixing bowl and stir in the mustard powder with a good pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, crack in the egg, then pour in a dribble of milk. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating some of the flour, until you have a smooth batter in the well. Now add a bit more milk and continue stirring until all the milk and flour has been mixed together.
  2. The batter is ready: You should now have a smooth, lump-free batter that is the consistency of double cream. Tip it back into the jug you measured your milk in, for easier pouring later on, then stir in the thyme. Use scissors to snip the links between your sausages, then drop them into a 20 x 30cm roasting tin. Add 1 tbsp of the oil, tossing the sausages in it to thoroughly coat the base of the tin, then roast in the oven for 15 mins.
  3. Cook the batter: Take the hot tray from the oven, then quickly pour in the batter – it should sizzle and bubble a little when it first hits the hot fat. Put it back into the oven, then bake for 40 mins until the batter is cooked through, well risen and crisp. If you poke the tip of a knife into the batter in the middle of the tray it should be set, not sticky or runny.
  4. Make the gravy: Soften the onions with the remaining oil in a large nonstick frying pan for about 20 mins, stirring often, until they are golden brown. Sprinkle in the sugar for the final 5 mins. Add the spoonful of flour, then cook, constantly stirring, for 2 mins, so it coats the onions and there is no dry flour left. Gradually pour in the stock, stirring well to make a smooth sauce. Bubble for 4-5 mins to thicken, then season. Cut the toad in the hole into large wedges and serve with the gravy spooned over.
  5. EQUIPMENT: Large mixing bowl, measuring spoons, wooden spoon, measuring jug, scissors, 20 x 30cm shallow roasting tin, timer, knife, chopping board, large non-stick frying pan

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Knives Every Man Should Have in His Kitchen

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Knives Every Man Should Have in His Kitchen

Posted on 12 April 2011 by Chris Ford


Every kitchen should have at least three knives. Heres a quick guide so you are ready to cut and chop anything that comes your way

The chef’s knife, usually 8-10 inches long, is a every dayknife  and the workhorse in anyone’s kitchen. It is used for chopping, slicing and dicing, basically it’s the all-purpose knife.

A serrated knife, 8-10 inches long to use on bread, and hard to cut items like squashes, vegetable stalks, and for slicing roasts.

Lastly, a paring knife, usually 3-4 inches long, for peeling, coring, and slicing small items like cherry tomatoes!


A well-crafted knife lasts for decades, and it’s worth the investment. So, how do you choose a good knife? well you cant really go wrong with a quality brand life Global Knives , they offer good quality at a reasonable price and is what I use in my kitchen and love them!

In cooking, I always say that great meals start with using great ingredients.  That philosophy is also true for knives–it’s all about material.  Top quality knives are forged using the highest quality of finely polished stainless steel.  Though other materials–including ceramic–have recently been introduced to the manufacturing process, stainless steel remains the preferred choice for most chefs.  The weight or feel of the knife should also reflect quality.  There should be no joints between the blade and the handle, i.e. seamless integration.  The handle should allow for a secure grip, while also being comfortable for use over time.  Regarding the surface, the overall appearance of the blade should be smooth and highly polished, serving as sign that the knife is resistant to rust and corrosion.   And finally, the cutting edge should retain its sharpness over time.


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How To : Cook the Perfect Steak

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How To : Cook the Perfect Steak

Posted on 18 October 2010 by Chris Ford

I recently had the chance to ask BBC chef Simon Rimmer how to cook the perfect steak and these were his top tips:

Selection – Pick some good-quality meat – something that’s aged for at least 21 days if you can. That means that even if you cook it rare, the blood doesn’t seep out.

Temperature – Take the steak out the fridge ahead of time and bring the meat up to room temperature.

Seasoning – Rub a little olive oil into the meat and then season, don’t oil the pan

Heat – Get the pan really hot; use a griddle pan if you can to get those charred lines on the meat.

Turning – You only want to turn your steak once, any more will ruin it. Different cuts take different times depending on how rare you like your steak.

Is it ready? – Don’t be tempted to cut into the steak to check its cooked, try and get a feel for how you like your steak cooked as cutting draws the moisture and flavour our of the meat.

If you are looking for a source of quality meat may I suggest the rather excellent Donald Russell who will deliver steaks straight to your door www.Donaldrussell.com


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Simon Rimmer talks to us about Steak Week

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Simon Rimmer talks to us about Steak Week

Posted on 11 October 2010 by Chris Ford

Chef and food writer Simon Rimmer is the new face of Beefeater Grill’s National Steak Week.  Simon is the owner of Greens, an award-winning vegetarian restaurant in Manchester. He also is the in-house chef on BBC2’s ‘Something for the Weekend’.

To celebrate National Steak week ,Beefeater Grill and Simon have come up with the Steak Lovers menu for £24.99 you will be treated to a four course meal with optional wines selected to match each course:

Beef Consomme (with slices of seeded bread)

Sirloin Steak and Pepper skewers (with a chilli dip sauce)

Steak Platter – A collection of Rump, Fillet, rib-eye , served with chips, onion rings, grilled tomato, mushroom and a peppercorn sauce.

Fire and Ice cream – Ice Cream served with a sweet chilli sauce

and I must say I was very impressed when I tried it. Afterwards I had the chance to ask Simon  a few questions:

The steak lovers menu excites the meat lover within me, can you tell me what excites you about the menu in particular?

I think the strength of the menu is that often people aren’t quite sure what the various cuts of meats do in terms of flavour and all they go on is price point, and tend to think “well the fillet’s really expensive so I’ll have the Rump” but if you get to taste the Rump, Sirloin, Rib-eye and Fillet you get to see there are big differences in texture and flavour.  With this menu the platter course includes all those cuts which is something you don’t often get, it’s real blokes food.

Is the beverage you select important with a good steak?

Food and wine matching works on one of two levels, as either a complement or a contrast.  So you complement it for example if you have a nice smokey piece of fillet steak  then you want something soft and smooth like the Malbac we had or you have something that contrasts it, something peppery like a Pinot Noir.  In very basic terms if you have something sweet and something sour it aggravates our taste buds, it makes us salivate which then brings out more flavour in the steak.

What or who first inspired you to think about cooking as a career?

I’ve always been involved with cooking from when I was a kid, both my mum and dad cooked so its always something thats been around. When I was a student I worked in bars and restaurants always on the front rather than in the kitchen and then just decided to take the plunge and buy a restaurant.  Eventually  through lack of money and not being able to employ anyone I ended up in the kitchen which turns out was the best thing that ever happened to me, I absolutely love it, its a great career; you never stop learning.

Do you have a favorite dish you like to cook for yourself?

Fish – I cook loads and loads of fish, I do a monkfish dish which is monk fish, potatoes , tomatoes, artichokes, butter lemon, parsley and garlic, you season the fish in a little bit of flour then fry it off in a bit of butter to get some flavour, plenty of lemon juice, chuck in all the other ingredients, a nice big load of butter and put it through the oven for about 15-20mins so the butter starts to kind of crisp up on top of all the ingredients, it’s a big one pot dish, throw it on the plate with a bit of crusty bread and it’s absolutely delicious.

You aren’t vegetarian or a trained chef – how did you end up opening a veggie restaurant?

We were looking for something that was cheap and cheerfull and I lived just round the corner from where Greens is and it was originally a very down beat hippie veggie cafe. The original plan was we would buy it, make a bit of money then after two years sell it then buy a real resturant but we got the bug and were doing something people liked and we have now had it for 20 years.

when we started it was 28 covers now its 84 covers, we bought more land to extend the building into the shop next door, it’s been a real labour of love. So by default we started off with a veggie restaurant but its turned out to be a great thing to do.

What veggie dish would you serve an avid meat eater?

I’d get some puff pastry and fill it with risotto rice, wild mushrooms, chilli, goats cheese, roll it up then bake it for 20mins then serve with a good creamy mashed potato with a red wine sauce and roasted beetroot.

What sort of environment is your kitchen?

When I first started employing people a friend of mine who had run a business for years said that as an employer you have to give people the opportunity to succeed not the opportunity to fail, letting them fail is far easier than giving them the opportunity to succeed and I think that being in an environment of terror and fear isn’t the best way as a human being to work and so I’m not saying people don’t get told off and in trouble when they do things wrong but fundamentally we work in a calm controlled environment.

Its very calm, I’m not a big shouter full stop really, I always say to my lads in the kitchen that I think I’m more the disappointed father rather than angry dad. It’s more like “ are you going to send that out?, if you think that’s ok I’m just a bit disappointed really”.

What’s your favourite / most rewarding part of our job?

My favouite part of the job is at the end of a really busy service, you always hit a point on a busy service where we are just about out of control here , we aren’t going to be able to cope with the volume of trade that’s coming through the door we are really right up against it and then you come through it, at the end of the night you sit down with a cold beer and you recount the tales of war of what’s gone on during the night and take the piss out of each other for whats gone right and what’s gone wrong, there is no better feeling than the beer at the end of the night, it’s well earned.

Gordon Ramsay has been criticized in the press for his pub chain using so called ‘boil in the bag’ cooking, which turns out is a french technique called  Sous-vide, do you use it or would you ever use it?

What he was criticized for was having a central production kitchen and people were saying he was producing ready meals, and it’s complete nonsense.  A lot of chains will have a central production kitchen to maintain standards, say for example that monk fish dish we talked about about earlier, it might well be that that is produced in batches and then sealed into individual portions to make the control of quality easier and I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I have two restaurants which are both very different so it wouldn’t work for us but if I had six or seven sites I think there’s nothing wrong with having a central production kitchen, especially if it maintains quality then so be it.

Can ready meals ever be good food?

Yeah they can absolutely, I think that in the same way any form of Chinese takeaway can be both good and bad , you just have to be selective in them, Ive had plenty of decent ready meals. The ones that tend to work well are things like Lasagne ,curries and stews, anything more ambitious than that
then they can be a bit crappy really, you do get what you pay for, if you pay 99p for a ready meal in a petrol station then that’s what your gonna get.

Simon Rimmer is working with Beefeater Grill to launch their Steak Lover’s Menu for National Steak Week [18th – 24th October]. Visit www.nationalsteakweek.co.uk for more information


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