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#LegsAndTie with Yorkshire Valley Farms and Edulis

“You had me at Edulis” – or at least that’s how I remember responding when Marian from Branding and Buzzing asked me to participate in Yorkshire Valley Farms #LegsAndTie programme.

To build exposure for their brand and product the organic chicken producer hired B & B to recruit four bloggers who would each be matched with one of four different restaurants to create a dish with their chicken. After going in for a day at the restaurant’s kitchen each of us then had the opportunity to invite nine friends for a dinner built around the main-event chicken dish. Twitter activity and a sponsored post would result, but more importantly folks would get the opportunity to taste some really delicious food while in the enjoyable company of like-minded foodsters. (more…)

The Butchers Visit

Yesterday my post addressed the controversy that has sprung up around the deal being offering by The Butchers through I visited the store, met Marlon Pather,  and along with some of the buytopia team tasted samples that Marlon provided and we cooked.

I have some additions to make to my analysis of the Trueler post that played a significant role in starting the controversy. There is a lot wrong with that post but I tried to concentrate on the four potentially informative tests run on sausages that they purport to have bought from The Butchers: water leakage in a bag of frozen sausages; an iodine test for starch fillers; cooking the sausages and observing their appearance; and leaving a piece of sausage at room temperature for two days and observing whether it spoiled.

Mild and hot Italian from The Butchers. The sausages did not split.

Mild and hot Italian from The Butchers. The sausages did not split.


Spit Roast

“We can learn to be cooks but we must be born knowing how to roast.” -Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin as quoted in Jeffrey Steingarten’s “As the Spit Turns” in It Must Have Been Something I Ate (Knopf).

“Some people roast a chicken and then peel off and discard the skin.  What is the point?  If you can’t stand the skin, stay out of the chicken.” -Steingarten himself in “As the Spit Turns”

I shudder a bit when the oven in our backyard at the cottage is referred to as the “pizza oven”.  I do it myself because “wood-fired oven” is cumbersome and “outdoor brick oven” even more so but I really don’t want it to be thought of as some one-trick pony.  The oven’s on an island away from the tentacles of the homogenized orange pizza delivery empire but still it was a lot of work and uses a lot of wood to just make one dish, no matter how delicious.  That’s why when the oven was being lead through the curing process (days of low, long fires to gently drive the moisture out of the masonry) I made a point to cook a variety of dishes.  Pulled pork for tacos, steak grilled over coals, and probably best of all, roast chicken.

The guys at The Paupered Chef have written more than one post about roast chicken (my favourite of their methods is the recipe that calls for croutons under the chicken to catch the fatty drippings).  I’m not as roast chicken obsessed as they are but it is a dish I think a lot about and I thought I might be able to use a rotisserie to roast a chicken in the brick oven. (more…)

Terrines Are the New Meatloaf

I try to keep an open mind about all food but I really don’t like meatloaf.  But I really like terrines.  Aren’t these essentially the same combination of ground meats, spices, and filler cooked to well-done and served sliced?  Is my taste difference a matter of cultural perception–surely the creations of Larousse and Brillat-Savarin should be better than the collaborations of the Campbell’s Soup Company and the 1950s American housewife, right?

As a start I think the problem is that when Americans get their hands on a traditional preparation the serving size tends to balloon.  The meatloaf/terrine divide is the perfect example: The French have a purpose-made smaller cooking vessel while Americans usually employ a loaf pan.  The larger serving size and American tastes have combined to breed most of the fat out of meatloaf.  (The more palatable recipes sneak some back in by covering the meatloaf in strips of bacon.) The use of lean ground meat leads to a dry meat that needs filler to hold in moisture and gravy to hide the dry, gray meat.  Definitely not good. (more…)

Cooking Entirely Without Gas

Man and his oven

Man and his oven

In April and early May warm weather comes as a welcome surprise and home cooks rush outside for the season’s first session with their long-neglected Webers.  By the end of November most are driven inside to the comfort of oven-heated kitchens but for those willing to brave the chill, outdoor cooking at this time of year holds a particular reward.

For nearly two years I have been interested in the idea of building a brick, wood-fired oven.  My cousin, Alex, through some enviable luck has managed to acquire a pre-fabricated one and through a good deal of heavy-lifting has set it up in his backyard. (more…)