Cookisto / Coq au Vin

Chicken marinated then braised in wine with garlic, herbs and mushrooms, just screams French cuisine at it's best.

If you're lucky enough or rich enough, the classic French chicken Bresse is the finest. Its rich, gamey flavour and slight chewiness takes this rustic dish to heaven and back.

Gratin Dauphinoise is the perfect, delicious, partner in crime. Potatoes slowly baked in a silky smooth cream and cheese sauce with a gorgeous crispy topping. OK, its not the healthiest kid on the block - but once in a while its the ultimate comfort food.

This amount of decadence requires a bit of light relief in the form of Petit Pois a la Francaise - basically a lovely menage tois of lettuce, peas and spring onions (OK lets not talk about the butter!)

All this for £9.50pp with homemade French bread baked the traditional way with long fermentation and wild yeast. Bon Apetit!

Cookisto / Porchetta

Succulent pork, rich gravy and a big fat bun. According to Wikipedia (so it has to be true) Porchetta was selected as prodotto agroalimentare tadizionale (traditional agricultural food product) one of a list of traditional Italian foods held to have cultural relevance.

It's fatty, meaty and delicious, flavoured with herbs and spices, one of the ultimate street food choices. Pork belly encases a beautifully tender pork loin and cooked for, up to, 8 hrs. Don't be put off with the reference to 'fatty'. Fat equals flavour, not chewy horribleness. With rolls from Aston Parish Bakery, it is wonderful.

The pork is produced by our local farm butchery and is naturally reared. The quality is exceptional £9.50pp

Cookisto / A French Bistro Classic Hachis Parmentier

Cookisto is going all Gallic this week with a French Bistro classic. I love Bistro grub, it’s unpretentious, tasty and, usually, very affordable. Paris on a cold, wet day sitting in a toasty, steamed up bistro with a big bowlful of Cassoulet or Hachis Parmentier is my idea of heaven. Unfortunately, bistros are not as common in France today as they were 30 years ago, although there are are a couple of family run bistros surviving in London. There’s a cracking one in Brighton, which includes steamy windows, but it’s a bit too far for lunch!

To say Hachis Parmentier’s a French version of Cottage Pie, is being a little too simplistic. BTW ‘hachis' means ‘chopped’ as in ‘hatchet’ and ‘parmentier’ is any dish that includes spuds. The French always make every day meals sound posh!

The meat (usually beef, although lamb is popular) is cut into small cubes rather that minced, then braised very slowly before the potato and cheese thatch. Unlike mince, you cannot make it with any old bits of meat and fat, as there is nowhere to hide.

I served it to friends for lunch recently and there was an unanimous thumbs up for it to go on the Cookisto menu – so here it is!

£9.00pp which includes baguette, from the bakery, and a veg – not sure what yet, but it will include cabbage. Zut Alhors – what a great dish for a winter Friday evening!

Cookisto / Year of the Dog Char Siu Pork with Egg Fried Rice & Spring Rolls

This week I'm cooking up a wonderfully aromatic pork dish with delicious egg fried rice and my own homemade spring rolls. We tend to think that all Chinese cuisine revolves around a wok, but this is pork loin marinated overnight in honey, bean curd and rice wine and roasted in the oven.

I don't eat out a great deal or have takeaways, particularly in local Chinese restaurants as the levels of MSG used are above my comfort levels. Also, I usually find Egg Fried Rice a disappointment, so over the years I have developed my own versions of some classic dishes. As I don't have a fierce enough flame for my wok, I make thin egg pancakes and slice them, thinly, into the rice at the end. This avoids a rather claggy mess of egg that destroys the texture of the rice and vegetables.

Spring Rolls are little parcels of crispy wrap and delicately flavoured veg. Well, they should be anyway. The last one I had put me off for life. I was visiting my Mother-in-Law in hospital and stopped off at a Chinese takeaway for a snack. I bit into the roll and squirted hot grease all over my clothes. Horrible, and never again. That was years ago and have never bought one since! They are relatively easy to make and great for mixing and matching flavours. I can't resist bean sprouts, soy sauce and a few noodles. Like the character from The Mikado - yum yum.

£8.50pp with a slice of Chinese Milk Bread. This is new for me so fingers crossed!

Cookisto / Steak & Kidney Pie

The ultimate British winter warmer in August? I’ve had a heartfelt plea from regulars who are celebrating a big wedding anniversary. Melting, soft, naturally grown shin of beef (cooked on the bone) from cows reared locally. Beef kidney and mushrooms for flavour and, of course, plenty of red wine to enrich the sauce.

I make Rough Puff pastry made with butter and lard for that essential crispy, golden canopy. A pie like this needs little more than smooth, creamy Colcannon and a hunk of bread from Aston Parish Bakery to mop up that yummy gravy.

A real treat at £9.50pp - a duvet on a plate (there's some idiot who says things like that?). If you want to order bread, Forcaccia, Sausage Plait, of any other goodies, include it in your order.



Cooksito / The Best Macaroni Cheese

I like to keep close to the Italian origins of this pasta dish and bring in the lovely flavours of Pecorino, Gorganzola and the smokiness of Pancetta.

A crunchy topping is a wonderful contrast to the smooth, creaminess of the pasta underneath. I thought a fresh, salsa type accompaniment would go well with this dish, rather like a light Ratatouille. There will be the obligatory hunk of bread from the Aston Parish Bakery. £8.50pp

Cookisto / West Country Faggots & Peas

This dish has been an all time favourites of my regular Cookistadors. . If you've not come across faggots before or you've been nervous about trying them (yes, they do have loads of that terrible stuff Offal in them) then now is the time to give them a try.

I make faggots the traditional way by wrapping the meaty filling in pig's caul, which is a lacy membrane that encases the animals internal organs. The caul not only keeps the meat in a neat ball but, as the faggot cooks, the caul melts into the meat, basting it naturally and adding an extra bomb of flavour.

 
 The Raw Deal

The Raw Deal

 

Of course you can't have faggots without peas, mash and an unctuous onion gravy. Believe me, I'm not going to hide behind modesty, my onion gravy is one of the greats! Rich in wine, caramelised onions and homemade beef stock made from marrow bones, vegetables and aromatics reduced to a bouncy, quivering jelly. Stir that into your mash, its gravy heaven.

All the meat is naturally reared and supplied by Brookfield Farm Butchery at Aston End.

£8.50pp with a slice of Sherston Cottage Loaf from Aston Parish Bakery

Cookisto / Cullen Skink Cobbler

A Fishy Friday! Cullen Skink is a glorious dish which is Scotland's answer to a Chowder. Smoked fish in a luxurious creamy sauce, it is the ultimate winter warmer.

Forget the Swedish Hygge, go with a peat fire and tartan blanket! For this weeks Cookisto, I've adapted this age old recipe to a Cobbler. A Cobbler is a topping of light, toasted scones that soak up the rich sauce underneath.

This is a meal and half on it's own, but I must include a hunk of oatmeal bread from the Bakery!! £8.50pp

Cookisto / Keralan Fish Curry

Firm white fish, intensely flavoured spices, rich coconut sauce and fresh, aromatic herbs. It's all there in a single fragrant pot of South West India.

Kerala is known as the land of the spices because it traded its spices with Europe and other ancient civilizations dating from the Sumerians from 3000BC. I have been lucky enough to go to Kerala. I shall never forget travelling from Tamil Nadu over the Western Ghats, one of the 8 most diverse biological hot-spots in the world, into the state of Kerala.

Kerala seems to stand back a little, somehow, from the delirious madness that is the rest of the subcontinent. A spectacularly colourful place ( I know, I know, the rest of India isn't exactly monochrome!) where we ate the most stunning food we've ever tasted. The bewildering variety of ingredients, the subtlety of the spicing, the smells, and the knowledge and experience of the cooks, blew our minds away.

One of the many things I did learn was to roast my spices - including black peppercorns - and taste, taste, taste.

Order a bowl with rice and Naan for £8.50pp. Oh, BTW, curry doesn't necessarily mean hot!! It will be full of flavour but not thermonuclear!



Cookisto / Stifado & Stuffed Peppers

Underbaker commented that Cookisto is becoming a Greek Taverna. What's wrong with that?? After all Cookisto is a modelled on a community takeaway founded in Athens!

Stifado is one of the best known, deliciously robust, traditional Greek dishes. Beef slowly, slowly cooked with wine for a few hours until meltingly tender and luscious. Oregano adds the herby, earthy notes to one of the world's most delicious dishes. Served with Orzo stuffed peppers and Greek country bread to mop up those silky juices.

Cookisto / Kedgeree & Riata

Kedgeree originated from the Indian rice-and-bean or rice-and-lentil dish Khichri. Made with rice, smoked fish, eggs and spices, it became popular in Britain in Victorian times as a breakfast dish. It was almost certainly on the early morning menu for Queen Victoria as her love of all things from the sub-continent is well documented.

Chilled yoghurt with cucumber and garlic is cooling and astringent, so Raita is a great foil for the smoky, spicy, slightly sweet rice dish.

£8.50pp with Aston Parish Bakery bread.

Cookisto / Pollo alla cacciatora

It’s a dish that’s full of flavours that work really well together. Chicken legs marinaded in red wine and herbs overnight, then cooked slowly with garlic, tomatoes, rosemary, more red wine, olives and, my own secret ingredient. I’m interested to know if anyone spots it!

Penne and a green salad with a robust dressing, is all this delicious dish needs. Keep it simple. Including bread £8.50pp.



Cooksito / Spring Rabbit Stew

I love rabbit. Sweet, lean meat that's shunned by the 'but they're so cute and fluffy' brigade. Never mind, there's plenty of this delicious animal for the rest of us to enjoy, whilst smirking at those missing out.

The rabbit will be served on the bone, so there will be legs as well as saddles. Spring veg should be in the markets, so they will be perfect poached alongside the rabbit. Creamy mashed potatoes sound a good idea (underbaker is pretty handy with the butter and cream) and I'll keep a look out for some fresh greens on the day.

With the customary bread from the Bakery, £9.00pp.

Cookisto / Steak & Kidney Pie

It's British Pie Week so what is more of a British pie than Steak & Kidney (or Snake & Pigmy as it's known in our house). Succulent, naturally bred beef from Brookfield Farm in rich gravy, under a buttery pastry pillow. It cries out for a green veg, so it will be joined by Spring Cabbage.

As always a hunk of bread from Aston Parish Bakery to mop up the juices - yummy. For those of you who are offended by offal, I'm doing a sans version.

All good for £8.50pp.

Cookisto / What a load of Chicken Cobblers

A bit of a spring cold spell and British classic - a cobbler. Cobbler is believed to come from the word Cobeler meaning 'wooden bowl'. I found that on Wiki, so it must be true. They also say that cobblers originated in the British American Colonies because the English settlers couldn't make a traditional suet crust, so topped the stew with biscuits or dumplings.

The modern day Cobbler has a topping more resembling a scone (fastest cake in the world? Ssssssssssssssscone. Geddit?). A sweet scone is perfect to eat with jam and cream, a savoury scone, particularly if its flavoured with a nice strong cheese, is a perfect partner for sauces and gravies. Cobblers can can be sweet or savoury, the filling can be fruit, fish, any type of meat and any flavour of scone. Cheese and herbs are my particular favourite.

I'm including potatoes in the cobbler to really take on the flavours, but I will be adding a side dish of honey roasted carrots and parsnips £8.00pp.

Friday night is Cobblers night!

Cookisto / The Best Cottage Pie Ever

Cottage pie has got to be the most homely British dish you could conjure up, but how often do you get a grey, watery, grainy filling topped with lumpy mash instead of an unctuous, meaty delight under a duvet of velvety smooth mash? The secret lies in top quality, coarsely minced beef, a good dark ale and long, careful cooking. The tatties must be rigorously mashed with loads (sorry) of butter and whole milk.

This beauty of our isles comes with cabbage speckled with smokey bacon and roasted black pepper. A hunk of crusty bread from the Bakery and off you go...£8.00 pp. Get the beers in!!