Category Archives: London Food

Sushi Roll of Honour …

The Food Flunky Blog is now hosted here (thefoodflunky.com) click here to see the new site and read all your favourite posts!! Tom aka The Food Flunky

True to form I was steaming … this time however it wasn’t the application of a sedate cooking method!

The combination of ‘free’ and ‘bar’ to a northerner is an oxymoron, because my god have I paid a high price for my alcohol gluttony.

Anyway, enough about my pickled liver recipe. This is simply a heads-up for Alan and Cameron at Mika Events, who against all adversity (namely drunken rambling fools) produced a spectacular range of sushi for the freeloaders at ShortList Magazine’s recent 1st birthday bash.

On an average night-out I try to steer away from folks brandishing sharp knives, but being the curious bumbling idiot that I am after one-too-many sherbets, I quizzed Alan as to the amber jeweled roe he was using …

‘Tobiko Flying fish roe’ was the response … and before my brain had the chance to digest these words, Alan had chopped, spooned, squeezed and rolled the most delectable Tobiko Temaki-zushi (hand rolled flying fish roe cone with rice and Japanese mayonnaise).

Incredible! Thousands of little sea water bursts, spiked with iodine and balanced with a tiny bit of acidity and richness from the mayonnaise.

This is not yet another shameless plug in the slightest, I just genuinely appreciate the passionate people in the industry. Those people who learn and subsequently share their skills and experiences with the masses. Alan and Cameron are of this creed and if you’re having a corporate event or party, then I cannot recommend Mika Events enough.

And so to the fungi, the mushrooms, the spores … Wild Mushroom and Goats Cheese Pasty Recipe

The Food Flunky Blog is now hosted here (thefoodflunky.com) click here to see the new site and read all your favourite posts!! Tom aka The Food Flunky

The finished mushroom pasty article...

The finished mushroom pasty article...

I’ve found myself justifying my blog title namesakes of late and therefore promise to keep the posts brief and to the point. Again the scene: a damp Saturday morning, the bewer, a hangover and a mission.


1. Clear the hangover
2. Keep the bewer happy
3. Pick mushrooms

1 out of 3 aint bad?!

Armed with my innocent looking, bravado inspiring, forager romanticising, £1 “Mushroom Hunting” by Collins, from the local charity store I endeavored into the wilds of Wimbledon Common (pre-empt: No Wombles on this trip). Now a “common” to a common man such as myself pertains to a … common, a field or grassland if you will, not a forest. Granted the eerie sounds of fauna are replaced with the A4 and various other major road truncations but here I’ve found a woodland Mecca on my doorstep (via the 219 Bus from Balham to Wimbledon Broadway and a 15 minute walk up the hill).

Excited with my Earth Balls, disappointed with their promised nauseating tendencies, reinvigorated by the crop of Cortinarius, again disappointed by their kidney failure inducing properties but elated by the Birch Puffball and the Yellow Swamp Russula. 3 hours later, with a chest proudly puffed, I had a babies-fistful of edible mushrooms and after a swift, rather fitting pint of real ale it was on to the kitchen.

Not wanting to detract from the earthy flavours of the mushrooms it was a toss-up between buttery mushrooms on toast or the pasty option. The latter winning out.

This recipe is so simple and really does justice to the mushrooms. To avoid swamping the dish with the richness from butters, I recommend adding the goats cheese. The creaminess of the cheese will obviously compliment the butters but the slight sharpness harnesses all the gout inducing goodness and perks the dish, helping unravel the complexities that may have otherwise been lost.

I must confess that the foraged readies did need a helping hand. I simply bulked up the puff pastry filling with Portobello mushrooms from Trinity Stores in Balham, Merchant Gourmet pre-cooked chestnuts, just a touch of seasoning and served the beast with a dressed bitter leaf salad.

(A Cheats) Wild Mushroom and Goat’s Cheese Pasty

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main meal):
400g wild mushrooms, wiped with any nasties removed and coarsely chopped (or try oyster, field, chestnut, or any other in season mushroom)
70g salted butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
100g pre-cooked chestnuts, finely chopped
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, woody stalks removed
splash of white wine
handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon
100g tangy Welsh goats cheese
1 pack ready rolled puff pastry
freshly ground salt and black pepper
1 beaten egg

To serve:
1 handful each radicchio and frisee leaves
a glug of good olive oil
juice 1/2 lemon

Method:
Pre-heat a baking tray in the oven to 200℃.

In a large sauté pan over a medium to low heat, sweat the onions with a knob of butter for 10 minutes. Once translucent, add the thyme sprigs, the remaining butter, mushrooms and chestnuts.

Once the mushrooms have released their juices and reabsorbed them (approximately 15 minutes) add the splash of white wine to remoisten. Cook for a further 5 minutes and season to taste with freshly ground salt and black pepper.

Cut the puff pastry into a circle with a diameter of approximately 25cm. Add the parsley and the lemon zest to the to the pan and give one final stir. Spoon the mushroom mixture into the centre of the pastry disk, leaving a 5cm outer ring for crimping. Dot the mixture with the goat’s cheese and carefully fold one-side of the pastry to the other to make a bulging semi-circle.

From the bottom point of the semi circle, pull the 5cm rim over onto itself and tuck underneath each fold to completely encapsulate the mixture. Brush with the beaten egg and carefully transfer the pasty to the preheated baking tray. Dress the leaves with lemon juice and oil.

Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until the pasty turns a golden biscuit colour.

Fanfare the pasty from the kitchen to the table on a wooden chopping board, Allow the chosen few to serve themselves and watch them happily fight for the corner you haven’t already laid claims to. Cleanse each pasty mouthful with a chomp on the dressed leaves.

Provenance, Perseverance and Preserves … (Wild Strawberry and Raspberry Jam Recipe)

The Food Flunky Blog is now hosted here (thefoodflunky.com) click here to see the new site and read all your favourite posts!! Tom aka The Food Flunky

Now I’m going to end up sounding like a broken record on the topic of food sourcing but alas I’m a born again forager, and proud of it!

So my bank holiday Sunday recently departed was spent picking my little heart out at Secretts Garden Centre in Milford, Surrey. Granted it was battery-farmed foraging and the first locally based pick your own I stumbled upon but boy did it deliver. And as a result of the bumper harvest, I now have arguably the most unique collection of receptacles dedicated to housing the spoils of my visit.

This is by no means a macho brag list but here are the fruits and vegetables of my (and the bewer’s) labour:

1.5kg Raspberries
1.4kg Blackcurrant
1.2kg Strawberries
0.4kg Blackberries
1kg Courgettes (plus flowers)
1 handful Puffball Mushrooms

I will talk about the courgettes with their alien like qualities and the mushrooms later, but for now I’ll suffice in talking about the jam.

I tracked down, both on and offline recipes, as per usual however, my mum came through with the goods, reiterating the fundamentals of many of the methods sourced. The bewer and I tested various combos (minus the inclusion of courgettes and mushrooms) and quantities but the method and recipe outlined below seemed to be the most consistent and requires no elaborate equipment.

It literally works with all the fruit we gathered. Being a non-puritan preserver, personally I think the combined fruits work best.

So here it is …

Equipment:

2 very large heavy based pots
3 – 4 saucers (left to chill in the freezer)
Ladel
Funnel
As many jars with lids as you can lay your jammy mitts on, steeped in boiling water for 20 minutes (don’t touch the inners of the jars and lids to avoid contamination)

Ingredients (this recipe makes enough for about 2kg of jam or approximately 4 regular sized jars):

1kg of washed ripe mixed berries (I’d personally recommend combining strawberries and raspberries in equal quantities. Chop the strawberries if large and always ensure the fruit is devoid of insects, rot etc)
100g caster sugar
30g jam sugar (sugar with pectin)
Juice of 1 lemon

Method:

Place the pan over a medium heat and pour in the 100g of caster sugar. Heat until the sugar begins to dissolve on the base of the pan. Stir frequently to avoid the sugar burning on the base.

After about 5 minutes add the mixed berries to the pan and stir quickly to ensure all are evenly coated with the granulated syrup that’s formed in the pan. Turn the heat up and stir for a few times until the berries begin to release their juice.

Once the berries begin swimming in their own juice, give it one last stir and add a lid to the pan. The berries should now begin to boil rapidly.

After approximately 5-10 minutes, remove the lid and add the lemon juice and jam sugar. Boil for another 5-10 minutes until the berries are almost completely broken down (Don’t bother skimming the surface to remove the foam … it’s way too laborious and for me, achieves nothing).

Now remove one of the saucers from the freezer and using a teaspoon, carefully place a small dollop on the centre of the saucer. Return the saucer to the freezer.

After 2 minutes check the “jam” on the saucer to see if it is at all set (the surface of the jam should wrinkle slightly when pushed with your finger). If so remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes. If not repeat the last step every 5 minutes until the desired consistency is reached.

Once you have your jam, begin filling every last receptacle with your spoils CAREFULLY!

Seal the jars with the lids and add to another large pan filled with cold water. For additional sterilisation, place the pan on a high heat and boil rapidly for about 20 minute.

Leave to cool completely, adorn the jars with any Lakeland Plastics labels and lumberjack shirt material you wish, store in a cool dark place and mention your homemade jam in polite company at every given opportunity.