me vs valentine

I’m trying to cook my way through some cook books that are sitting on my shelf – Valentine Warner’s, The Good Table being one.

VW has a recipe for braised ox cheek. Having made ox cheek stew for the first time a few weeks back (by a recipe of my own invention) I was interested to see how this recipe compared. Unfortunately I cannot replicate the recipe here (copyright rules etc.) but what I can say was that the verdict was mixed. Valentine’s recipe gave up a richer, deeper flavour to the stew – something that TC thought was delicious. For me, I found it too heavy, too hearty and preferred my own concoction, finding it more palatable in its stewy lightness. Each to their own though I guess, so no clear winner – this time! Anyway, here it is, prior to being eaten with a chunk of bread.



a cheating toad

There has been a bit of a lull recently with my postings. For that I will blame my travellings (to the French Alps with limited Internet access) and a start of a new day job. The latter has meant an increased amount of non-me time, meaning that my quest to “cook a book” has been made slightly trickier to accomplish. Luckily The Crow stepped in, as he, for his own reasons, suddenly has a lot of me time. So (on my command) tonight was the turn of Valentine Warner’s Toad in the Hole (I’m calling tonight’s supper “cheating”, because it wasn’t me who cooked it – it did taste good though and I don’t think I could have done much better myself). I’ve made a toad on the hole on Comestibilis before, but according to The Crow, the beauty of this version is the simplicity (although he did embelish VW’s version). So here goes…

Serves 2


2 tablespoons sunflower oil
6 sausages
1/4 onion


115g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
225ml milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Thinly chop the onion and then soften them in a frying pan with some butter or olive oil. Add the sausages and brown them. When browned put the sausages into a baking tray. In the meantime whisk the batter ingredients together adding half of the onion to the mix. Pour over the batter mixture and put into the oven at 200C for approximately 35 minutes or until the batter is golden.

The rest of the onions are used in a (cheating!) gravy mix with another dollop of mustard for good measure (refer to my other toad in the hole recipe for a really punchy toad gravy).


pork chop novice

pork chops with apple

pork chops with apple

I’ve been coveting the latest book by Valentine Warner (The Good Table) for a few weeks now and last weekend I managed to get my mucky paws on my very own copy 🙂 The recipes look mouthwateringly wonderful and I couldn’t wait to start playing. Luckily I just happened to have a couple of pork chops in the fridge – I’m not entirely sure what they were doing there as I’ve never liked them (I’ve always found them too dry) – however, one of VW’s recipes early on in his book is called “pork chop with apple & crispy sage” and the chops were just crying out for some VW treatment.

As I’m not sure what the rules are in regards to copying out other people’s recipes word for work into a blog (and being the pork chop novice that I am, I copied the recipe word for word) I’d better not reproduce it here as I don’t really feel like being shut down. However if you manage to acquire a copy of the aforementioned book for yourself, just turn to page 30 and you’ll find the recipe in question there.

I made a rather elementary mistake of reading the cooking temperature incorrectly and then using the grill instead of the oven (I put the latter error down to still getting used to my new tool). However, I managed to save the chops and produced a rather tasty (if not highly calorific supper) and not a dry pork chop in site.  Whatever you do, do make sure you wash this meal down with a glass or two of cider.