Tag Archives: Byron Fitzpatrick

The last half of Dec 2009

I know! I have a lot of explaining to do. For various and doubtless rather lame sounding reasons, I have not posted anything for almost 20 days. I apologise to all eight of my fans, particularly the two who are not related to me and therefore not bound by blood to subscribe to my blog. 

Quite simply every Christmas my normally-strong-and-vigorous immune system registers that I have almost two weeks of binge-eating, binge-drinking, binge-uniting, binge-reuniting, binge-singing, binge-dancing and general work-free bliss approaching, and decides to pack itself in. Last year it was the flu, this year it was a tummy virus. 

Not only did this deprive me of any opportunity to collate recipes and photos for this, my beloved blog, but I was only allowed to eat toast and dry turkey for Christmas dinner. I watched as my parents nosebagged everything – bacon, brandy butter, carrots, champagne, parsnips, port, pudding, roasties, smoked salmon, sprouts, TRIFLE!, turkey (with the skin on too!). My proud rebellion against the virus of several pints of Black Sheep and Ruddles County in the pub on Boxing Day resulted only in aggravating my ailment. Despite all this I still managed to acquire the rudimentary half stone that blights us all during the Christmas period. 

The period in-between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve was spent catching up with friends, visiting relatives (Grandad Ronald is still in fine fettle and looking forward to a luxury cruise) and watching my beloved Middlesbrough beat Scunthorpe (only to go on and lose to Barnsley the following week). New Year’s was another excuse to don the dinner jacket and have a right old Beano. Most notably, my team (Lets Get Quizzical) won The Quiz of the Year, the boys beating the girls over a hard thought tie-breaker. 

So, illness aside, the festive season was not wasted. I had a great time with my parents, caught up with some dearly missed Yorkshire buddies and got in some much needed sleep. I even managed to top it all off with an amazing early-January dinner party, hosted by some very dear friends and their adorable Labrador puppies. 

Unsurprisingly, I am not that pleased to be back in a rather damp and very cold London; even less so to be back at work. But a new year should always warrant a new start and hopefully Project Sort Myself Out is slowly churning into third gear. Please bear with me. 

Before I sign off, I thought I would just provide a quick foodie review of my 2009 (I have noted that all my favourite food bloggers have done one, therefore so should I. It should not take too long considering I only started this blog last month).  

In 2009: 
  • I have acquired a taste for vegetarian food (thanks to the barrister and the blacksmith)  
  • I have always ordered the Chicken Katsu Curry at Wagamama, despite reading the whole menu every time I go there  
  •  It has been reaffirmed to me that my mother still rules the kitchen  
  • I have bought few but well chosen cookery books   
  •  I have collated countless recipes from newspapers and magazines that will take an age to read  
  • I have discovered that New World is, in my opinion, the most authentic and best dim sum restaurant in London (1 Gerrard Place, W1D 5PA)  
  • I have eaten at New World over ten times (the majority of these with Chloe and James)  
  • I have got a job two minutes from Borough Market (an ostrich burger from the Gamston Wood Farm stall being my regular Friday treat)  
  • I have learnt many new recipes that I will definitely be sharing with you  
  • I have learnt that my favourite part of any meal will always be seconds

New World for Dim Sum - 1 Gerrard Place, Chinatown

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Croquetas de Pollo

The feedback on my opening post, you could say my amuse-bouche, has been incredible. Understandably the majority of responses have been from people I know, but what has been really encouraging are the comments I get from those I do not. In particular a lovely sounding lady called Hilary. Finding the courage and self-belief to write a food blog, especially an interesting one, has been an arduous process. I have been taking the plunge one toe at a time.  

So to you all, Thank you very much! 

Without a doubt, there have been some changes. Most notably the picture of myself in the About section. I have been told I look like a right chinless wonder and that nobody wants to see me in my morning suit quaffing an apple flavoured martini (my fav!). Therefore I have replaced it with a photo of me perusing a menu in a restaurant, or should I now pronounce it res-tor-raun? You know, the way some foodies do. 

To keep the ball rolling I have decided to submit my first recipe – croquetas de pollo! (Hopefully the exclamation mark will encourage you to strike the pose of a bull fighter shouting ‘Ole!’…or is that just me?). 

I first heard about this recipe whilst working at a well known chain of Spanish restaurants during my last year at university. I use the adjective “Spanish” very loosely; it was about as Spanish as my post A-Levels holiday to Magaluf. The exchange students who worked there were the only element of Iberian authenticity to the whole establishment. It was understandable that they held the food they served in contempt, in particular Rafa, a Mallorcan, from where this dish hails. 

He must have really complained to his mother as she actually mailed him a hamper, and snuggled amongst the chorizo, jamón Serrano, manchego cheese, tortas de aceite and turrón was where I found this tupperware-ensconced delicacy. I was enamoured at first bite. 

Today I rely on it as a starter, a moreish snack and believe it to be one of the ultimate comfort foods (a much healthier and less post-devourement-guilt-inducing alternative to a chicken nugget). 

Whilst I have compiled many recipes for this particular dish, I have found the best offering has come from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage cookbook

Croquetas de Pollo 

Makes about 20 

You will need

350 ml of full cream milk

50g of butter

50g of plain flour

1 small onion (finely chopped)

1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)

250g poached chicken breast

2 eggs (beaten)

1 tbsp of parsley

75g of breadcrumbs (I recommend fine blending some olive oil toasted baguette laced with ground nutmeg)

Couple of glugs of Olive Oil

Groundnut Oil (will be used for frying, so make sure you have enough)

Salt and Pepper

1 Gem Lettuce

Juice of half a lemon 

  1. Heat the milk in a sauce pan (do not boil).
  2. In a heavy frying pan melt the butter then add the flour. Stir into a fine roux.
  3. Bit by bit add the warm milk (remember not to boil).
  4. Stir continuously for two minutes then remove from heat.
  5. You should now have a lovely béchamel sauce to put aside.
  6. Sweat the garlic and onion in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Once sweated, place garlic and onions and the poached chicken into your blender.
  8. Blend.
  9. With a wooden spoon fold the béchamel sauce and herbs into the blended mixture.
  10. Spoon the mixture into a container…cover and place in fridge to cool (this is very important as the cooled mixture will allow you to successfully mould the croquetas).
  11. One cooled (to avoid sticky fingers, dust your hands in flour) mould the mixture into any shape you want. I normally try to shape small circular spheres of chickeny goodness and end up with small patty-like creations. Whatever the case they will taste wonderful.
  12. Each croquetas should be coated in flour, rolled in the beaten eggs and blanketed in the breadcrumbs.
  13. Heat some groundnut oil in a frying pan.
  14. Fry each of the croquetas for approximately 2 to 2 ½ minutes on both sides until brown (remember to place on some kitchen roll to soak up the last vestiges of excess oil).
  15. Serve on a bed of finely chopped lettuce, drizzled in lemon and possibly with a sauce for dipping. I recommend a sweet chilli sauce.

Please do tell me what you think.

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New Kid on the blog

Where to begin? Well. I want to write about food.

Since I can remember food has been a stoic friend. Together (and at my parent’s expense) my family lived and travelled the world, predominantly in Asia (where my mother is from), meeting many people and eating countless meals. For an agonising few years, food and I had an uncomfortable separation when I was sent away to prep school. The shit really hit the fan when I realised my fellow preppers could not use chopsticks, had not heard of gollo mee, never tasted hainan chicken rice, or smelt sambal belacan. On the other hand, they had heard of group beatings, wedgies, mega wedgies and super atomic mega wedgies. Their disinterest in good food was more than matched by their efforts to find wherever in the schools grounds I had hidden and pelt me with acorns, conkers, fir corns, sheep poo and shoes.

Even though the school was surrounded by some of North Yorkshire’s most opulent and verdant farmland, not to mention the countless livestock, rabbits and pheasants that presided on the school land, I had no choice but to eat the ghastly food that to this day blights our country’s educational establishments (fee paying or not). It was the only time of my life I successfully lost weight.

Despite the occasional trip to the local deli, the food at my second school was not exceptional, but infinitely better. What I was introduced to was junk food, which, combined with a healthy appetite, pocket money and puberty, turned me into a highly-developed and overweight man-boy. My favourite snack at that time: two chicken rolls stuffed with Frazzles or McCoy’s (Salt & Vinegar), four slices of toast, ten chocolate bourbons, a Mars milk, a pint of milk, a bag of grapes and two cups of tea (milk no sugar).

University was where I really started to develop my cooking skills. I blended, burnt, chopped, peeled, overcooked, undercooked and over-salted my way through recipes emailed to me by my ever indulgent mother. I can only apologise to those who endured some of the atrocities I lumped on their dinner plates. Added to this I got to experience the food adventure that is Leeds, in particular the great little eating establishments and ethnic supermarkets that can be found all over the city.

These days food and I are intimate friends. My skills have been finely-honed and I find complete gratification in reading about food, learning to cook it and practicing new recipes. When my minimal salary allows me to, I eat out. Cooking for my friends, talking about food and eating it is my way of escaping the monotony of a boring job and dreaming of being the next Nigel Slater.

I love food, hear me pour!

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