Posted by: jazzmouse | September 30, 2015

Korea development…

Forgive me bloggers for it is eight months since my last submission. Life gets in the way some times and before you know it seemingly eight months have passed. I’m currently in Seoul, Korea, enjoying a tour with the U.S. production of Chicago. An American cast and a British band prove to be an harmonious blend of talent playing to capacity crowds most evenings. Our first impressions of this country (after a month) are very positive. There’s a fantastic food culture here and I’ve never seen so many coffee shops, anywhere, in my life.  There is probably a clutch of coffee shops every 100 yds!  

There are lots of myths about Korean food. Yes you do get Kimchi with every meal but it’s health giving properties far out way the expected mundanity of its regular appearance. No they don’t have dog on every menu… Some of the guide books list places that sell it but, as yet, we’ve not encountered it. There is, however, a panopoly of fascinating food eaten, in the main, for health reasons. Boochoo for example (a scallion like vegetable) raises the bodies temperature to ward off colds. I am still trying to discover the benefits of deep fried silk worm chrysalis… 

Fish feature strongly here and I believe  that korea is the originator of sushi and sashimi taken back, to Japan, by invading armies. We suffer a disconnect in the UK between source and plate. It’s very hard to do that here in a fish restaurant where the tank containing your supper is generally out by the front door. The fish is certainly fresh. Thus far I’ve tried sashimi of flat fish and baby eel, cooked squid and the ever loving silk worm chrysalis.   

Ginyep is Korean for the sesame leaf which you use to wrap parcels of bulgogi (wafer thin meat cooked either by you in a Korean Bbq or by the restaurant) or any other protein. You add a bean paste and kimchi or another salad (you get a lot of side dishes). The leaf itself has a slightly herby flavour and is quite delicious. Round lettuce works just as well. There is a rice jelly that’s a very subtle flavour and, of course, nutritious. 

Noodles feature a lot but rice seems to be the staple. Potatoes we’ve only seen either as fries (big USA influences here) or on a pizza. We’re lucky that our breakfast service is so comprehensive. You can eat a vast array of international cuisine as well as plentiful fresh fruit. Water melon juice is a new favourite as well as ice cold green tea. I’m a firm believer of the ‘when in Rome’ principle of eating abroad and breakfast is no exception. My breakfast usually starts with watermelon juice with a hot green tea. Dim sum style dumplings feature next and some of the many Korean dishes that appear as sides in so many places. These include things like candied lotus root, baby anchovy, fried and served with walnuts. Grilled, dried squid and nuts is a popular beer accompnianment here. Other breakfast sides include burdock root and dried squid in a spicy sauce. A sprinkling of seasoned soy sauce sets this dish up and by this point my noodles in soup are ready. You can choose between udon, ramen and rice noodles; pick a selection of veg (pak choi, enoki mushrooms, onion and bamboo shoots) and then some protein (prawns, quails egg, fish ball). This is then simmered in a sieve before a stock corresponding to your noodle choice is added back in your bowl. This is an excellent way to start the day. 

Our post show food has fallen into two categories. Korean traditional or another Korean speciality, fried chicken. They even have a word for beer and chicken! This served either with the expected potato hit of fries or wedges but the chicken itself is the star. Fried and topped with green onions was a favourite. The Korean traditional option has also been a hit. From when we got on the plane we were introduced to Bibimbap. Bap means rice and this dish has the usual element of Korean DIY. A red hot stone bowl is layered with rice, veg and sometimes meat. You add the Korean pepper sauce and mix like mad. Served with miso soup and the sides of kimchee and other salads/pickles it’s a great meal and a favourite amongst us all. Korean Bbq has also featured strongly. The most popular being the bulgogi. That being said I’ve had marinated pork, beef skirt, squid and mushroom. All excellent.  You get a choice of cooking either over charcoal or another variety is a soup that you cook your food in over a gas burner or halogen hob. I’m not sure if the restaurant owners didn’t was us to kill ourselves or were just being polite but we rarely were trusted to do all the cooking ourselves.

I loved pretty much everything I had in Korea with possible exception of hot sake with a fish tail in it. The portion sizes are good and the food fresh and tasty. A little ‘bravura’ is required on occasion but nothing to challenge the seasoned traveler. 

Seafood rice soup


Posted by: jazzmouse | November 6, 2014

What’s in your sausage? Tales of a homemade banger…

So we’re two years into the better bangers quest. Managed to establish a couple of things. Home made sausages are very good indeed but are hard work. Capacity is key, it would seem, in order to make profit.
The lovely Breville mincer and stuffer that Mrs f bought me for my birthday 2012 had reached terminal velocity. Sure it minced, but the stuffing was traumatic… Almost off putting. If I said that I’d researched the hell out of the next step I’d be fibbing… The solution was clear. I needed a bigger stuffer!
Temperature is key to the whole process so the least amount of time that the meat is exposed to machinery during both the mincing and stuffing the better the end product. My other failing was busking recipes. This is fine if your making a dozen sausages but when your dealing with five kilos of meat you need a better structure…
I’d had requests for pork sausage recipes with honey. I’d dutifully bought the honey and then stared at it a lot…
The big success of the merguez (and subsequent smoked merguez) recipes that I’d made proved the success of a good recipe. So along came a new recipe for a French style (adding fennel seed and wine) pork and honey sausage. Bingo another winner!

700g pork – preferably 3-parts pork shoulder to 1-part pork belly (this provides roughly 25 per cent fat content although this may vary depending on the pork that you purchase) or 700g pre-minced pork.

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1/2 tbsp sea salt

1/2 tbsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped

1/8 cup red wine – I used white, worked well

sausage casings

Before you start: Try to keep the ingredients as cold as possible at all times. Wash your hands before you start and make sure all equipment is well sterilised.

1. Start by soaking your sausage casing in some cold water. Set aside.

2. Cut the meat into small cubes and process through the meat mincer. Set aside and refrigerate.

3. Prepare the other ingredients by combining the fennel, sea salt, pepper, honey and fresh herbs in a mortar and pestle. Pound well.

4. Place the meat in a large mixing bowl and add in the herbs, seasonings, red wine and honey. Mix well in a food processor or mixer (with paddle setting).

5. When you have made a good, solid mixture, do a sample run. Prepare a fry-pan, with a little oil or duck fat and make a small patty of mince mixture. Fry for a minute or two on each side until it’s thoroughly cooked. Sample and check for seasoning and flavour.

6. Place your casing on the end of the sausage nozzle and tie a knot at the end. Place the meat mixture through the top opening and turn the machine on. Watch for air bubbles. Slide the mixture through and tie a knot at the end of the sausage.

7. Then twist the sausage into sections to make smaller sausages.

8. You will need to prick them with a sausage-pricker (yes, there is such a thing!) or skewer prior to cooking. – not necessary!

Note: Freeze, refrigerate or cook sausages immediately after they have been made. Home-made sausages can be refrigerated for up to three days or kept in the freezer for up to one year.

I also made some pickled red cabbage. Easiest recipe in the world curtesy of Mrs Beeton.

– a red cabbage
– salt
– water
– 1.13 litre/2 pint vinegar – to each quart add 1 tbsp ginger, well bruised
– 25g/1oz whole black pepper
– a little cayene, if liked

1. Take off the outside decayed leaves of a nice red cabbage, cut it into quarters, remove the stalks, and cut it across in very thin slices.
2. Lay these on a dish, and cover them plentifully with salt, then cover with another dish.
3. Leave for 24 hours; turn into a colander to drain, and if necessary, wipe lightly with a clean, soft cloth. Put them in a jar; boil up the vinegar with the spices, and when cold, pour it over the cabbage. It will be fit for use in a week or two, but if kept for a very long time, the cabbage is liable to get soft and discoloured. To be really nice and crisp, and of a good red colour, it should be eaten almost immediately after it is made.

Very good and easy!



Posted by: jazzmouse | October 13, 2014

Homemade Pepperoni

Excellent stuff!

Cast Iron Dan


Well, now that the holidays are over and the house starts to empty, it’s time to post one of the recipes that I have been working on! It was great having the family together – visiting and cooking, I hate to see everyone go home!

My wife (Daphne) and I have been making sausages for years, but it never occurred to us that we could also make pepperoni! It seems like we are forever buying expensive little baggies of pepperoni slices whenever we make homemade pizza (once a week…) It sounded like something that I needed to make.

Authentic pepperoni is supposed to be stuffed into casings and then hung to age for a minimum of 2 weeks at 60 degrees and 65% humidity. We live in the Mojave Desert, so unless it has just rained, you will never see 65% humidity – so I opted to stuff the pepperoni…

View original post 347 more words

Posted by: jazzmouse | October 9, 2014

Smoke gets in your Pies…

Just over a year ago I wrote a piece about the start of a new venture into curing meat. It was doing really well, so much so that I was making food all the time and making any progress on the business side. As generally happens when something is going well, something else comes along to alter the balance. In this case it was to finish the UK tour of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (with my musical hat on!). I wrote about this whilst I was away for this tour and a subsequent tour to New Zealand. Now back fully in the UK I decided to have another crack at the meat business.

One of the benefits of having been away for a while was I got to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Bacon was always fun as was Scotch eggs albeit time consuming. The pastrami was also good as was Ox tongue and everyone liked the beef bacon. I’d established that I could restart these at any time and, always being one happy to embody the spirit of adventure, decided to try and solve some of the production gaps. The biggest gap was smoking. I have a stove top smoker which was fine except that it was difficult to regulate the temperature and was low on capacity. After a happy meeting at my local pub one of my neighbours announced that they had a large Brinkman hot smoker and would I like to use it?

Brinkman ‘Smoke N Pit’

Hot smoking

I jumped at the chance! Here at last was a large cooking area with thermometer and chimneys to boot. Excellent! I cracked straight on with brining a brisket. This is something I have done a few times now and I really like this brine recipe from Michael Ruhlman

Brisket Brine for pastrami

  • 6 ounces or 3/4 cups Morton’s kosher salt (or 200 grams if measuring water in liters)
  • 3 ounces or ½ cup sugar (100 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons pink salt (sodium nitrite), optional
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 x 5-pound beef brisket, the more fat it has the better

Combine 1 gallon/4 liters of water with kosher salt, sugar, sodium nitrite (if using), garlic and 2 tablespoons pickling spice. Bring to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled. Place brisket in brine, weighted with a plate to keep it submerged; cover and refrigerate

This is a good around cure for the brisket and I have added extra flavours including bay leaf & cardamom. The beef can cure for a minimum of two days but I quite like it upwards of a week. It’s a question of taste.

After the brining the meat looks like this.

Brined Brisket

Brisket in Brine

I’d loaded the smoker up with charcoal and set the temperature to about 150º C (350ºF) , I’d  made a smoke generator with soaked wood dust & dried sage from my garden in a foil container covered with heavy duty tin foil, pierced in several places. This was topped up twice during the smoke as was the charcoal.



Smoke generator


Topped the brisket with dijon mustard and ground pepper corns and coriander seed and then smoked the brisket for about six hours, cooled it and sliced it.


straight from the smoker

Sliced pastrami

Sliced pastrami

Needless to say the taste is excellent. Good smoke flavour and real aroma and the pepper crust is amazing. I’ve also tried ribs in the hot smoker…

Pork ribs








Cold Smoking

So the hot smoking was only part of the puzzle. Dry cured bacon was great but I needed the ability to cold smoke product once it was cured. This was all proving to be beyond me until the arrival of an ex-chef friend who also is a carpenter… “no problem” says Spencer…

So here is then the Spencer Carlowe Mk1.

The Spencer Carlowe Mk 1 smoker

The Spencer Carlowe Mk 1 smoker

It took some effort to get it home in my wife’s convertible car but arrive it did. I’d already cured some bacon in preparation and so we loaded it up. The smoke is generated by a concentric frame that holds wood dust. This smoulders away for up to ten hours producing a good supply of smoke.

getting started...

getting started…

smoked garlic, cheese, chilli, salt & pepper

smoked garlic, cheese, chilli, salt & pepper

Smoked bacon

Smoked bacon

Smoked cheese

Smoked cheese, garlic, chilli and salt!

This exceed all expectations , the bacon was superb and all the extras just blew us away! This was a six hour cold smoke with the temperature around 60º F (19ºC). I love the colour difference on all the smoked food but especially the bacon.

Spurred on by this and with Spencer, the ex -chef, becoming less ‘ex’ by the day we planned another day. I’d ordered some more dust on-line in a variety of flavours. We picked oak for the second smoking and the raised the bar with regard to product range.

The whole smoked pepper that we’d made on the first smoke was good but started to lose the smoke after crushing. We ground it for the second smoking and with greater success. the one thing we were desperate to try was salmon. I’d found a London cure (nothing to do with the devolution vote honest…) which was to cure just in salt for less than 2 hours, we then smoked the salmon for about 5 hours. The result was amazing! another hit. It cuts well and tastes fabulous.

I’d also fancied making Merguez sausage as I’d not made a lamb sausage yet. These, even unsmoked, were great. Big bold spices and still with a great lamb flavour. We made up some merguez flavour mix


  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper

for this recipe…

  • 1 lb. (500 g) ground beef or lamb
  • 4 oz. (120 g) ground or finely chopped fat
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 2 tablespoons merguez spice mix
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons harissa



These were stuffed into collagen chipolata skins and rested for a couple of hours before smoking.

We had to smoke them…

new selection of wood dust

new selection of wood dust

Cold smoked salmon

Cold smoked salmon

Smoked Merguez Sausage

Smoked Merguez Sausage

All in all the whole rejuvenation of ‘Cured!’ has been a great success…





Posted by: jazzmouse | June 11, 2014

There’s more to Wellington than boots…

A few notes from the other side of the world!

Business in Berkshire

Hello once again and greetings from the other side of the world. My theatrical based travels now find me in Auckland having completed three weeks in Wellington with the musical Annie.

jazzmouse wellington cable car

The journey, I have to say, is long! I left the UK on a Monday evening, flew to Dubai on a Airbus380 (yes the double decker, no I wasn’t up stairs!) This journey alone is a good six hours, I’ve been to Dubai as a transit passenger a few times over the years but never managed to stay longer than three hours. The next leg is the biggie, thirteen hours to Melbourne, again on a 380 (yes & no again). Melbourne airport was like may others at 6am… mainly closed! The last hop was a mere four hours to Wellington. It is now Wednesday afternoon!

jazzmouse and golam

With a population of only 397,000 Wellington has a lovely small town vibe. Lots of bijou…

View original post 896 more words

Business in Berkshire

After seemingly brief sojourn in Leicester the big pink bus moved onto Edinburgh.

Jazzmouse Soft shell crab sushi

I say seemingly brief because nothing of any exceptional merit occurred. Eateries were eclectic and our random corner by the De Montfort hall was fairly typical. A local chain (McIndian) specialising in chicken based meals drew our attention as much for its bare faced imitation of a certain other brand as much for its value menu. £1.49 would buy you 4 chicken wings and fries. Half a chicken and biryani rice £5. Whilst you might question the provenance few can argue the value. This was just around the corner from a Muslim run steak house (no alcohol or pork) that was similar value. An authentic Turkish charcoal grill completes the mix and gives you an idea of the delightful melting pot that is Leicester.

jazzmouse scotch pie

Everards brew a few fine ales. My personal favourite is Tiger and this was…

View original post 879 more words

Posted by: jazzmouse | March 24, 2014

Lap Yuk

From Belly to Bacon

Remember when pork belly was an off cut? While it is good for butchers and good for hog farmers (and really good for diners) how the belly and other former off cuts have moved closer to the mainstream, it is not so great for home bacon makers. However, our local market purchased a few acorn-fed tamworths and while the chops and ribs flew off the shelf, the belly was not even put out for sale. Moving to the burbs means living in the safe-zone much of the time, food wise, and the belly has reached full market saturation. When I asked if they had the bellies from the hog, they commented “yes” and “what are going to do with them?”. I mentioned bacon making and it got their attention enough to wrap a big belly and give me a price that I had a hard time believing.

View original post 679 more words

Posted by: jazzmouse | February 19, 2014

Ha’way The Lads (and Lassies)

Business in Berkshire

Greetings from Newcastle upon Tyne, jewel of the north.

It’s probably twenty years since I worked here last and it’s changed a lot. There’s been a fair amount of regeneration and it would appear that there’s a decent amount of investment going on. I’m not sure what the new ‘litmus’ for growth is any more but there is a ‘Jamie’s Italian’ opening next month. The business of show is doing well with mainly sold out shows every night. There are a few changes in the band for the remaining weeks of the tour but I’ve made one of my resolutions this year to ’embrace’ change.

This posts culinary adventure starts in Durham. I stayed over with my aunt in between Wolverhampton and Newcastle in the lovely city of Durham. My late uncle was a well loved wine and spirits rep in the city and so the family knowledge of good…

View original post 1,028 more words

Business in Berkshire

We are now safely nestled in Wolverhampton, playing the Grand Theatre. The business of show is doing well and it’s nice to be in an orchestra pit once again.

It was always going to be tough to beat Brighton and I was wasn’t expecting Cardiff to bring much to the table. I was quite wrong. The Millennium Centre is a truly wonderful place. Easy access for both equipment and people, good transport links and a very good restaurant quarter in the bay itself.

Cardiff bay is a regeneration of the old coal and iron docks that were spawned from the 1790 industrial revolution. It is estimated that people from over fifty nationalities settled in the area to service the growing shipping requirements leading to the area being known as Tiger Bay. After the second world war coal demand slumped and with the closure of the East Moors steel works in…

View original post 723 more words

Posted by: jazzmouse | January 28, 2014

Lamb & Anchovy Sausage

From Belly to Bacon

There are perfect pairings – peas & carrots, chilis & mint, peanut butter & jelly, ham & everything – and then there is the combination of lamb and anchovy.  There is no Smuckers jar with alternating stripes of lamb and anchovy, but rest assured, there should be. The salty depth of the anchovy combined with the gaminess of the lamb work together to create an amazingly forward and deep savoriness (see lamb neck, as an example). When I was looking for a new sausage pairing, I saw a deli of salt-cured anchovies sitting next to a plate of lamb leg and it made me think “Why is there no standard lamb-anchovy sausage?”

View original post 288 more words

Older Posts »