A Bacon Hock

bacon hock

Earlier this week we visited Wareham in Dorset and purchased, amongst other things, a Bacon Hock from Halletts Butchers. We’ve shopped there before and their meat is exceptional, they’re traditional butchers and the meat is from local farms. This Bacon Hock cost the princely sum of £2.29 which is ludicrous for the amount of meat is provided and became last nights dinner.

The bacon hock was first boiled, allowed to cool and then shredded. Next I made a Mustard Sauce using a little of the stock leftover from boiling the hock, added a generous amount of double cream and a tablespoon of whole grain mustard. The sauce was then thickened slightly before mixing in the shredded hock.

Pastry cases were made using Puff Pastry. Just before dinner the pastry cases were warmed in the oven before being filled with the reheated bacon hock in mustard sauce. The filled cases were then served with Peas a la Francaise. Delicious!

Hartnett Holder & Co

Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder’s joint venture restaurant at the Lime Wood Hotel, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst. I’ve been wanting to try this restaurant for some time so today we had lunch there ….. a disappointing lunch. I get the feeling that Angela Hartnett’s side of this partnership is the lending of her name rather than actually ever cooking in the kitchen or even deciding what’s on the menu. I fear she may be going the Jamie Oliver route.

The enclosed Courtyard area for drinks is a pleasant enough space in which we had a Kir and a Campari Soda while looking at the lunchtime menu.


When we were seated at the dining table we were asked if we’d like Arancini (Sicilian Fried Risotto Balls) as a nibble before the starters. I assumed that these were being offered as an amuse-bouche so was surprised to see them listed on the final bill as an extra. A bit cheeky really since they’re not listed on the menu.

For starters we chose the Hay Baked Potato with Crab Mayonnaise and the Wild Mushroom Tart with Truffled Scrambled Egg. The Hay Baked Potato was ‘interesting’. A few very tiny new potatoes had been wrapped in hay which was in turn enclosed in a paste case. You cut the case open at the table and ate the potatoes with the crab mayonnaise as a dip. When the case was opened we were met with a smell of a stable, complete with horse. Not unpleasant but definitely wet hay with horse droppings in it! The potatoes on their own tasted good, the crab mayonnaise was good but put the two together and the crab dominated. The potato may just as well have been boiled for all it mattered after they were dipped in the crab mayo. The tart was the best dish of the whole meal because of the sliced black truffle on the scrambled egg which topped the tart. However, this time it was the wild mushroom filling to the tart which suffered being drowned out, this time by the truffle.

For mains we chose the Lamb Belly with Pearl Barley and the Cod. Shortly after ordering my wife was told that the Cod was infact Hake and was she happy with that – no problem. What they didn’t say was that we’d been given yesterday’s menu in error and that the Lamb Belly was Pork Belly today. I only discovered that when the plate was put in front of me. The Pork Belly was surrounded by brown shrimps and chopped gherkins which were giving off very vinegary smells. This is not a combination I fancied at all and had I been shown today’s menu would certainly not have ordered it. The staff were very good about the mistake and exchanged the dish for the Hake. The Hake was perfectly pleasant and just the sort of thing I’d do at home. Not something I’d expect to pay a fairly high price for in a restaurant. The bowl contained a base of spinach topped with olive oil pureed potato and a steamed Hake fillet laid on top with a Salsa Verde Dressing.

Deserts were Walnut Cake and Ice-cream for my wife and the cheese selection for me. I was given three cheeses, a Pecorino, Lancashire and an Italian cheese I’d never heard of nor seen before, it had grape skins in the cheese which made it look a little as if it were a blue cheese which it was not. Well worth trying but not too pleasant.

My wife and I both agreed that we much preferred lunch at The Terrace Restaurant in the Montagu Arms Hotel, Beaulieu, just a couple of miles further along the road.

Unpasteurised milk

I buy unpasteurised milk from the Meadow Cottage Farm stall at the Hampshire Farmers’ Market in Winchester. I also buy their unpasteurised cream which, at certain times of the year, can be almost buttercup yellow and nearly as thick as butter. Not yet tried their ice-cream mainly because I make my own ….. more of that later. Here’s a short video about Meadow Cottage Farm made by the Hampshire Farmers’ Market people.

Orange Polenta Cake

I’m not really into cake making but this is one I love. A slice with a mid-morning latte is perfect.

Oranage Polenta Cake

The cake is a little deeper than perhaps it should be because the recipe calls for a 23cm cake tin and mine is less than that. I keep forgetting to buy the larger tin so my Orange Polenta Cake always looks like this. I prefer it made with coarse polenta, my wife prefers it made with fine cornmeal. You’ll need to cook both to decide which is best!

250g softened unsalted butter
250g unrefined golden sugar
4 eggs
150g polenta or cornmeal
200g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
zest and juice 2 oranges (less 100ml juice for the glaze)
100ml orange juice
100g unrefined golden sugar

Beat the butter and sugar together, then add one egg at a time beating as you do. Mix in the dry ingredients (I’ve got them already combined in another bowl so that the flour, polenta and baking powder are well mixed together), the orange zest and the orange juice after 100ml has been kept back for the glaze.

It’s probably safest to line the base and sides of your cake tin with grease proof paper, I seem to be able to get away without this with my tin. Place the mixture in the tin and smooth. Bake at 160C, or 140C for a fan oven, for around 45 minutes. If like me the cake is deeper than expected then it will take longer. Use the clean skewer test to determine when yours is cooked. This recipe doesn’t include the sliced orange on top of the cake, you’ll need a third orange if you want to add these. The orange is sliced as thinly as possible and added about 15-20 minutes before you judge the cake will be ready.

When the cake is cooked remove from the oven and allow to cool. In the meantime bring the glaze ingredients to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes and then allow to cool. Prick all over the top of the cake with skewer and then slowly pour and spread the glaze all over the top. By now my hand is itching to get hold of knife but it is best to leave the cake for another hour or two for the glaze to really soak in properly.