Bacon Jam?

I have just heard a spot on Radio Suffolk about Syms Pantry and their Bacon Jam.


No, it’s not a sweet preserve flavoured with bacon, it’s a savoury jam or relish and all the piggy bits are from Suffolk.  It sounds deeelish!  There are lots of variations of the basic ‘jam’, so it looks quite a venture.

I must get me gills around some when back in Britland.  Meanwhile, you could beat me to it by visiting Hadleigh Show this weekend (20th May) or Suffolk Show in a couple of weeks time (end May, start June).  Alternatively, look up Syms Pantry, or go to for a look.

Worth a go, I reckon!

Aspergers Berjers… (or Beef Burgers with Asparagus…..) on potato chippings/cubes and a sauteed melange

Aspergers berjers2You must forgive an ol’ git, but this needs some explaining.  Here’s the reasoning:

  • This is a lovely recipe which uses the bits of asparagus which you would normally discard.  My favourite phrase (well, one of ’em anyway) being “Don’t Waste Taste”.
  • Asparagus in France is known as asperge.
  • We are currently in our little ‘Lovenest’ in southern France.
  • This book (albeit currently here in blog form) is free to use, but there is a Just Giving account attached to it (which I never look at) which is for the benefit of The New Skill Centre, Ipswich, which is where our lad, David, goes every day as he has Aspergers Syndrome, which is a form of autism….. starting to get the drift?
  • Thus, Aspergers Berjers is a play on words; asparagus burgers? – ok, not a very good play on words, but….
  • As far as I’m concerned, I’m doing the work of producing this tome of good cooking, so it’s down to The New Skill Centre, Ipswich to promote it for their benefit.  The more they promote, the more it’ll raise.  Their fund-raising team will get to it soon I’m sure, and then the coffers may start to swell.
  • (Just by the way, I spent years wondering why there was no ham in a hamburger.  Little did I realise that the ‘burger’ is a dish from Hamburg in Germany.  The people are known as Hamburgers.  “Ah, I see now….” I hear you utter in unison! – Yeah, right!)

So, let’s start again.  This dish utilises bits of the asparagus that you would normally discard.  I don’t discard much asparagus as it’s too friggin’ expensive to chuck.  I prepare the asparagus as I describe in the Tricks’n’Tips section, and then I take the rough end bits that have been broken off and salvage a good amount of it for other uses.

  • Asparagus is expensive.  Lovely, but expensive.  Many people simply cut the spears all the same length and discard the tails.
  • STOP!  DON’T DO IT!  Don’t Waste Taste!
  • Hold each spear in both hands and bend it.  Work your way from the thick end (that’s been nearest the ground) until it snaps.  The fibres will determine where it’s best to break.  Put the broken-off ends (tails) aside.  You will use the lovely bits that they call the spears as your main vegetable.
  • The broken-off ends of asparagus have fibres that are long and tough.  That’s why it broke off where it did on each of the spears.  Thus, you can’t use them in the form of spears as they’ll taste great but have the texture of a cruise-liner’s mooring rope.
  • However, if you use a sharp knife on a chopping board, you can slice off quite a few thin slices of asparagus, until the knife starts to become difficult to get through it.  Doing this to all the spears will probably get you thirty or forty narrow discs of asparagus out of a bunch, all of which have very short fibres ; all of which would normally be discarded.
  • Add to that the action of taking these bits that are too hard to salvage even as discs and cutting them lengthways, in the direction of the fibres, into narrow strips and using them to make a subtle but flavoursome stock by boiling them for twenty minutes in just enough water to cover them.  Then, and only then, can the shredded tail ends be discarded.
  • Of course, if you wish to be swish, and serve your asparagus all the same length, you can slice off the unequal length of tails from the good bits, adding those discs to whatever you’re making.
  • Asparagus doesn’t take much cooking, especially the thin stuff.  Just gently pan-fried in a minuscule drop of oil or butter with plenty of seasoning.

So, what did I do for the Aspergers Berjers?


Prep:          30 mins.

Cooking:      Spuds 50 mins, the rest, 20 mins

Course:        Dinner/dinner party

Serves:       4 (or 6 if you’re mean….depends on the size of the pack of mince and the size of the burgers)

Rating:         2.  Easy. You can do it…… YEAH!

For four people, find:

  • A pack of beef mince – enough for four – use your bonce to gauge quantity.  5% fat is good, but if you’re not following a ‘regime’ it won’t matter….5; 10; 15; 20.  (You see, I try to make everything “Slimming World Aware”, which means that I try to cut down the fat content, or at least give you, the cook, an opportunity to do so.)
  • 2 onions – red is my choice, but….
  • Garlic cloves – quantity and type are your choice – I used 8 large fresh/wet
  • Asparagus – a good sized bunch
  • Potatoes – enough for 4 people
  • Carrots & or French beans – very optional
  • A bit of red pepper
  • A bit of yellow pepper
  • Seasonings – salt, pepper, a little curry powder or chili powder (careful!)
  • Oil or Fry-Light
  • Stock cube
  • Saucepan
  • Frying pan – or two would be better…
  • Food processor
  • A couple of bowls, one larger than the other.
  • Oven dish/baking tray/oven tin/flan tin/old bit of metal that you found by the side of the road…..washed, of course.


  • Peel the spuds and cut into 1cm cubes.  Pop ’em into a saucepan with boiling water and just soften ’em a bit: about 5-10 mins.   Retain the water.
  • Peel the optional carrots and cut into whatever shape you prefer.  Top’n’tail the optional French beans.  Put both aside for later.  (You’ll see these on the pic, but the dish didn’t really need them, so you can just forget ’em if you wish).
  • Do the biz with the asparagus, as above.  Put half of the thin circles into a food processor. The other half in a bowl of some sort.  Keep the spears (whether identical lengths or not) for later.
  • Cut the onions.  Put half of one onion, chopped medium sized, into the food processor.  Put the rest  into the smaller bowl.
  • Peel the garlic cloves and put them into the bowl.
  • Cut the peppers (colour and quantity your choice) into quite large chunks and put them into the bowl.
  • Blitz the onions and asparagus discs until tiny and put into a larger bowl, with the pack of minced beef, broken up.  Mix with a fork.
  • Add the curry/chili powder, the salt, quite a bit of pepper (black?)  and mix thoroughly.  Scrunch it up with your hands.  Mix/scrunch well into a gooey mixture/scrunchture. (I don’t give a shit that it’s not a word….. it SHOULD BE!)
  • Make balls and then flatten them into burgers.   If they do not behave and fall apart, bung it all back in the bowl, add an egg and mix/scrunch again.  It’s a good thing to put the burger shapes onto a bit of greaseproof paper/baking parchment, on a plate.  Stuff ’em into the fridge for an hour or so, or overnight.  If you wish to apply any other flavours, add them before the fridge.
  • Start to boil the carrots & beans if you’re gonna have them.
  • Put the potato cubes onto a metal sheet or oven dish, spray liberally with Fry-Light, and then again…..and then again (or just use oil), seasoning and then put into an oven at 200+C for half an hour.
  • Heavily Fry-Light the frying pan (or just use oil) and start the contents of the bowl lightly frying on a medium heat.  Put the asparagus spears in as well.
  • In a smaller frying pan, fry off the burgers.  It might be nice to sprinkle a little more curry powder on each surface just as they are about to be fried.  Your choice.  Medium heat – we don’t want them blackened at all.  Golden brown’s what you’re aiming for. “When they’re brown, they’re done……when they’re black they’re buggered!” as my dad use to say.
  • Put the stock cubes into the potato/veg water (yes, even if the veg is still in there)
  • Turn the burgers quite often.  Agitate the melange & asparagus quite often.  Check on the spud cubes too.  They need to be crisping up.
  • Get the plates ready.  You can warm the plates in hot washing-up water and then they’re warm for the meal (dry ’em up though….)
  • Spread the crispy cubes, the melange, etc.  Put the asparagus down the middle and a burger each side.  Pour the ‘gravy’ on sparingly, it’s only there for a little moisture.
  • Go fer it!

Unusual way to use-up leftover curry…

One of the most important things to learn to do in cooking is what best to do with leftovers.  SO MANY people waste leftovers because they simply don’t know what is possible.  I say: “Be brave”.

Yesterday’s Turkey-ish curry leftovers were due to be used up, so I jokingly told Jan that I’d put pasta with it.  I was being silly.  Jan thought momentarily about this and then said…. “That’d be nice!”

It was lovely!  I bolstered out the curry with a bit of the garlic & ginger tomato sauce that I’d made for use with some Toulouse sausages, a couple of spoons of another veggie ‘gravy’ thing and some chunks of cold chicken.  The short linguini pasta twists were cooked lightly, and used instead of the conventional rice.  It worked a treat!

The lesson to learn?

Don’t just follow the norm all the while.  If  rebel mixture of Curry + Pasta = Delicious, so it follows that so many other unconventional combinations may also be very successful.

BE BRAVE……and don’t waste food.

Turkish Traffic Light Curry….

Well, it’s not exactly TURKISH, and it’s certainly not ‘curried traffic lights’ of whatever nationality.

I suppose the title’s a tad confooosin’, really.   Ok, let’s explain.

It’s a curry, right?  Good, just so’s we got that straight from the off.

Ok, well, y’see it has a vibrant red, green and orange veg content, like traffic lights…..right?

Clear so far?   Good.

Well, the meat content is turkey.  So, I suppose rather than ‘Turkish’, it ought to be ‘turkey-ish’, with a lower-case t rather than a capital.

Ah well, ne’mind; allow a silly ol’ git to have a bit of a try at food humour (even though it may well have failed).

Oh yes, first an apology:

Empty plate

Anyway, whatever it’s called, wherever it came from, it were actually  friggin’ lovely!

So, here goes:

Curried turkey with extras

Find, for two people:

  • Turkey breast/leg/escalopes/drumstick…. whichever bit of turkey you can get hold of.  Some say “Breast is best”.  Personally, I’m a leg man, but I suppose if we’re talking turkey here, it might be different…
  • 2 onions – I like red, but….
  • 2 red peppers – bell or long. I had bought a big bag of long red peppers at a lovely French market just two days before.  I suppose there was about a dozen of varying sizes, all strange, gnarled shapes,  but lovely’n’fresh.  I’ll happily gnaw away on one of those at any time– good fun.
  • 2 carrots, or one big one.
  • Amount up to you, but I used 8 cloves of lovely fresh, wet garlic that I bought from a rather good French greengrocer on the corner of our boulevard. I suppose it was about half of the big bulb.  Wet, fresh garlic doesn’t have the pungency of the dry garlic that we get in Britland – especially the small Chinese stuff.  I know – I’m a lucky beggar to be able to buy this stuff so easily.  We buy our red wine there too….. about 2 Euros a litre…and it’s gorgeous.
  • Ginger root – fresh. I used about a thumb-and-a-half’s length of good, fresh ginger root.
  • French beans….I never count ‘em.
  • Broccoli, I suppose about eight fairly large florets from a big head of broc (calabrese).
  • Tin chopped tomatoes
  • 4 teaspoons of curry paste from a jar – this one was Sharwoods Balti.
  • About a mug of chicken stock
  • Basmati rice – about a mug full.
  • Water, boiling
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Large frying pan, preferably with a lid, for simmering over a longish period.  You could use a large saucepan instead
  • Medium saucepan, with a lid
  • Small food processor (or a big one….. or just stand there for 5 mins energetically chopping with a sharpened wide-bladed chef’s knife… your choice)


  • Peel and cut the onions. If you want a fine curry, chop them small.  If you like a rustic feel…. (and that’s not a new sex technique; naughty!) ….then cut em up big.
  • Cut the peppers down the centre, remove all seeds, inner white pith, stem etc. Cut into large chunks. (Of course, it’ll taste the same if you chop it small, but you’d lessen the intense red of the traffic lights)
  • Chuck all of those into a large frying pan, oiled, and pop it onto a medium heat.
  • Cut the broc florets and slice ‘em up small, peel the carrot(s) and cut them lengthways, then cut across, obliquely (that’s posh fer ‘at an angle’), top’n’tail the French beans and cut them into inch-long bits. Chuck all those into a saucepan and JUST cover with boiling water.   Pop it onto a high heat; you want to soften them a tad.
  • Keep the onions an’ stuff moving.
  • Peel the garlic and the root ginger (See Tricks’n’Tips for EASY ways of doing both of those tasks), cut into smallish chunks to give the food processor a head start.
  • Pop the garlic & ginger into a small food processor (or a big one….. or just stand there for 5 mins chopping with a sharpened wide-bladed chef’s knife… your choice) and ‘blitz’ until small.
  • Oik the veg out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon, or drain the saucepan through a colander, BUT RETAIN THE WATER! Don’t chuck it away.  Don’t Waste Taste.  Pop the drained veg into the frying pan. Mix.
  • Cut the turkey into whatever sized chunks you want. Pop it all into the frying pan.
  • Add a mug of chicken stock. I used the jelly from a fat cup in the fridge.  It is SO useful to have a fat cup, into which all the waste fats and juices are poured.  Skim the fat off (see Tricks’n’Tips again, as always) and use the jellied stock to boost flavours.    Don’t Waste Taste!
  • Put the contents of the food processor into the frying pan and mix. Ensure that you don’t waste any.
  • Pour about half a mug of the veg water into the processor bowl and then into the frying pan, to swill it out a bit. Keep the rest back to increase the moisture content at the end, should it be necessary.
  • Add the contents of a can of chopped tomatoes. Always make sure that you have plenty of these in stock; these cans of flavour are SO useful – keep a good stock ready for use.
  • Add the curry paste. There are many different ones available, but I used Sharwoods Balti this time.  Only because that was the one already open in the fridge.  You see, that’s what “Approximation Cookery” (i.e. this book) is all about; cooking sensibly, without the major constraints of strictly following a very short and precise recipe that doesn’t allow for variance; cooking doesn’t have to be formulaic.  If it actually MATTERS about quantity, time, etc, I WILL TELL YOU – just relax and have another glass of wine/beer/other beverage.
  • Ok, back to the plot…….“Mix it up and make it nice”, as the saying goes.
  • Set the pan to a low heat, place the lid on and go read a book/watch telly/get fresh with the partner for about half an hour.
  • Stir and replace the lid. Now go and do the same for another half an hour (if you have the stamina….)
  • Stir and taste. Make modifications as necessary.  You have water from the veg, you have seasonings…..
  • Make a batch of Aunty Delia’s Perfect Rice (see the recipe that she has so kindly allowed me to replicate for you earlier in the book…. Just don’t mention Norwich City….. I did once, but I don’t think that she noticed!)
  • Put the rice in the centre of the plate and spoon the curry mixture on top.
  • Before you eat it, take a photo of it and send it to me for this recipe, as I forgot!


Lardon & red onion-stuffed chicken breast with roasted peppers, onions and fresh garlic cloves, on a tasy bed of crushed sauted new spuds and Grand Columbier carrots, with fresh, locally grown aparagus…. and a sauce.

Well that’s ok then!


Lardon-stuffed c b single

I wanted to get away from ‘meat an’ two veg…..’ and so I plumped for   ‘on a bed of…..’ instead.

The chicken breast was cut so that it didn’t just open up as a book, but was cut in a Z shape, so that it opened up BOTH ways.  It held far more filling that way.

Filling?  Well, as we’re in France at the mo, the availability of lardons is just so easy that they simly had to be used.  So, here we go……

For TWO people, find:

  • 2 good-sized chicken breasts
  • 2 red onions (other colours/varieties are avaiable….)
  • 1 pack of lardons (or chop up some cooking bacon instead….it’s just the same!)
  • 1 red pepper (long or bell….. you choose)
  • Asparagus spears – how many is very definitely up to you….. how much do you love asparagus!?
  • Carrots
  • New spuds (ours were Grenaille, but yours can be any that you fancy…. Charlotte, Exquisa, Ratte [THE BEST!]…… take yer pick!)
  • A couple of chicken Oxo cubes
  • Chicken seasoning or piment doux
  • Veg oil
  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Oven tin (I used a round flan tin…..)
  • Almost a whole bulb of fresh garlic (not quite, but enough to…..)


  • Put the spuds on to boil.  No salt in the water at this mo.
  • Peel the carrots and cut into thin strips (Julienne)
  • Plop the lardons (or chopped up cheap cookingbacon – smae thing) into a pan with shredded red onion and fry!  They should not be allowed to burn, but certainly be well-cooked.
  • Cut the chicken breasts in a Z shape so that there are two flaps to open, and fill each with the lardons/onion mixture. Fold closed.
  • Pop ’em onto a flan tin or other shallow oven tin/dish/thingy
  • Cut the red pepper into large chunks and throw ’em on the tin.
  • Peel the red pepper and cut into 8, and chuck it all on the tin.
  • Put a splash of water into the tin, then sprinkle with oil, or use lots of Fry Light if you’re “Sur la regime”…. on a diet.
  • Shove it into a pre-heated oven at 200C for 40 mins or so.
  • Pop the asparagus spears on top of the spuds just to blanch a bit…..
  • Give the asparagus 5 mins, then…..
  • After about 15 mins, take the spuds out and crush ’em on a chopping board (they’ll be a bit warm…… boiling, in fact! 😀 )
  • Separate the cloves of garlic from the bulb, bt leave all cloves fully covered/in their skins.  Chuck those (at least a dozen cloves between two people…..) into the flan tin with the chucky and the peppers, etc.
  • Chuck the carrots into the potato water, add the crumbled stock cubes and get ’em up to boil quickly….
  • Chuck the crushed spud into a large frying pan with some veg oil/fry light.  Hard-fry.
  • After 10 mins, chuck the carrots into the pan with the spuds.  Mix well and hard-fry.
  • Hard-fry the asparagus in a separate pan.
  • Plate up.  Put the spud/carrot mixture on the plate, place the chicken breast atop the base, put the aspargus spears on the chicken and pour a little of the sauce/gravy/jus over the top.
  • Enjoy!

Chicken breast cooked in fridge jelly (UGH – sounds AWFUL!)….but it’s lovely.

Jelly chick 5Jelly chick 7Jelly chick 9Before, after & plated.

Chicken breast, even if stuffed with something nice, can turn out quite dry if oven-cooked.  This method avoids that dry, grainy texture that can just take the edge off a lovely meal.

But Fridge Jelly.  Sounds GROSS!

So, just what is this friggin’ FRIDGE JELLY?

Well, if you put half a dozen chicken thighs into an oven dish, add about half a cup of water and cover with foil, cooking them in a 180C oven for about 90 minutes, you not only get fall-off-the-bone chicken meat that is great for chicken salad, chicken pasta and other things nice, you also get an amount of liquid that can be poured into a cup and popped into the fridge.  As it cools, it separates, conveniently, into a layer of fat atop a jelly of stock.  Discarding the fat layer into a can or yogurt pot or something, it can be put into the bin, leaving the jelly.

“Don’t Waste Taste”.  That’s what I say.  This jellified stock is not quite fat-free, but it’s not bad at all.  This is how I used it on this occasion…..

For two people, find:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 onion (You know that I prefer red, but whatever you have.  Avoid blue…..)
  • Red pepper – amount as you wish; this book is not called Approximation Cookery for nothing!
  • Little new spuds – Charlotte, Exquisa, Grenaille, Ratte or similar
  • Stuffing for the chicken – I used a low-fat cream cheese, but you can use ham, spinach, bacon….just about anything…..goat’s cheeses is lovely in a chicken breast.  (Using kippers as a stuffing is not recommended)
  • Seasonings, etc
  • A splash of water.


  • Sharpen your knife.
  • Cut the chicken breast horizontally, halving its thickness, almost right through.  Open it like a book.  Place whatever you intend to use as a stuffing into it, add whatever seasoning ou want and close the ‘book’.
  • If you wish, you could wrap the closed chicken breast in bacon, but I wanted to keep it open to see how the method would help keep it moist.
  • Place the chicken breasts into a deep oven dish.
  • Chop the pepper and the onion into smallish bits and sprinkle over.
  • Put the baby new spuds all around the dish, snuggling against the chicken breasts.
  • Give the fridge cup a mix up with a fork and pour the jelly over the contents of the oven dish.  Spread it about evenly and add a splash of water.
  • Not exactly demanding so far, is it…..?
  • Neither is this bit….. put it into an oven set at about 180-200C for about 45 minutes.
  • Do your veg.  I cooked French beans and carrot batons in a saucepan in a chicken Oxo stock, but you do what y’want.
  • Plate up, complete with the spuds, onion and pepper mixture.

Enjoy the flavours!

……..and you thought you couldn’t cook?