Dogs of War

Often in the middle of warzones soldiers come across stray dogs who provide comfort in a time of need. This is exactly what happened to Royal Marine Sergeant Pen Farthing who quickly realised that it wasn’t only local people in that needed help in Afghanistan.

In 2007 he set up an animal shelter and charity called Nowzad near Kabul and when he left the army he dedicated himself fulltime to improving the welfare of animals in Afghanistan. He has also helped over 800 soldiers serving in Afghanistan to be reunited with the dogs that they loved in their home countries.

Nowzad is the only official dog shelter for strays in Afghanistan and in their ‘Conrad Lewis’ clinic Afghan nationals treat injured or ill Afghan animals. They make a huge effort to rehome dogs locally but there are still many who would love to find a forever home in the west.

Their next owners need to be patient with their territorial nature and give them all the love they had denied in early life. It’s a lengthy and costly process but undeniably rewarding. Nowzad would love to hear from anyone who is interested in adopting a dog from them. Please follow the link below for more information- http://www.nowzad.com/

Cherry hand rolls

Ingredients:

Cherry filling
400g cherries
65g caster sugar
Juice half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp cornflour

Pastry
350g plain flour
225g unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tonka bean
85ml water
2 tbsp cider vinegar

Method:

  • For the filling, pit and half the cherries and add to a saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Cook over medium heat until the fruit starts to break down and releases a lot of juice. Take 3 tbsp of cherry juice from the pan and mix together in a small bowl with the cornflour. Pour this paste back into the pan and and cook for a minute or so until very thick. Scrape this into a bowl and chill until needed.
  • For the pastry place the flour, sugar, salt into a food processor and pulse to combine. Grate in about 1 tonka bean and pulse once or twice. Add the diced butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Meanwhile mix the water and vinegar together. With the mixer running drizzle in the water until the pastry forms into clumps. Tip out onto the work surface and bring together into a dough. Divide into two short sausage shapes wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.
  • To assemble cut the pastry logs into discs (8 in total) and roll each slice out slightly larger than 5 inches. Use a 5 inch cookie cutter to cut into neat rounds. Place a small amount of filing in the middle of each round of pastry and fold over, using the back of a fork to seal. Use a sharp knife to poke a hole in each pie and place on a baking tray and chill for 20 mins.
  • When ready to bake brush each pie with a beaten egg and sprinkle with Demerara sugar. Bake at 190c for 25-30 mins until golden brown.

Herby scotch eggs

Ingredients:
6 eggs
300g pork mince
1 1/2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 1/2 tbsp chopped sage
1 tbsp chopped thyme
1/2 tbsp mustard powder
50g plain flour
125g panko breadcrumbs

Method:

  • Place 4 of the eggs into a saucepan filled with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 4-5 mins. Then immediately lift the eggs from the pan and place into a bowl of ice cold water and set aside for 10/15 mins.
  • For the coating add the mince, herbs and mustard powder to a bowl and use your hands to mix together, seasoning well with salt and pepper.
  • To assemble place the other two eggs into a shallow bowl and whisk together. Place the flour and breadcrumbs on to separate place. Divide the pork mixture into 4 pieces and place onto a sheet of cling film and press into a disc. Peel the eggs and place one on top of each disc of mince. Use the cling film to lift the mince around the edges of the egg, using your hands to carefully seal in the egg. Dip each egg first in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.
  • Preheat a deep fat fryer to 170c and fry the scotch eggs for about 7-8 minutes or until golden brown, draining on kitchen roll.

Picnic recipes

Pork and Fennel Sausage Rolls

Rough puff pastry:
250g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
250g plain flour
120ml ice cold water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp fennel seeds

Pork and fennel filling:
2 onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp fennel seeds
80g stale breadcrumbs
700g pork mince

  • Method:

    To make the rough puff pastry, place the flour, salt and paprika into a large bowl and mix together. Tip in the diced butter and use two knifes to cut into the flour, the resulting butter should be in irregular sized lumps about the size of large peas.
  • Drizzle in about a third of the water and use a knife to stir together. Repeat until all of the water has been added and the mixture is forming clumps. Tip the mixture out onto the work surface and use your hands to gently bring together into a dough. Form the dough into a rectangle, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 mins.
  • Roll the chilled dough out on a lightly floured work surface into a long rectangle, roughly 20x30cm. Brush off any excess flour and fold the dough into thirds, like a letter.
  • Turn the dough through 90 degrees so the open ends of the dough are facing you. Repeat the rolling process a second time before wrapping in clingfilm and refrigerating for a further 30 minutes. Once chilled repeat the rolling and folding twice more before chilling for a further 30 minutes before using. At this point you can chill the dough for up to three days before using.
  • To make the filling drizzle a little olive oil into a frying pan and over medium heat sweat the onion, fennel seeds and garlic, seasoning with a little salt, until the onion is soft and golden. Tip into a bowl with the breadcrumbs and allow to cool. Add the pork mince to the bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to really mix the pork mixture so that everything is well combined. Set aside for the moment.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan).
  • Take the chilled pastry from the fridge and on a lightly floured work surface roll out into a rectangle, about 25cmx45cm. Cut the pastry through the middle into two long strips. Divide the filling into two equal portions and form into a long sausage shapes, along the middle of each piece of pastry. Brush one side of each pastry strip with the beaten egg and fold the pastry over the pork mixture, using the egg to seal the pastry together.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut into sausage rolls (it will make 16 large sausage rolls or 8 large). Place the rolls onto a parchment lined baking tray and brush the pastry with the egg, sprinkling with the fennel seeds. Bake the sausage rolls for about 30-40 minutes or until a deep golden brown. I prefer to serve these warm but they are delicious for up to three days after baking.

Classic Scones

Ingredients:
340g plain flour
20g baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
50g unsalted butter, diced
80g caster sugar
100ml milk
3 large eggs
60g raisins or sultanas

  • Method:

    Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan) and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the diced butter and using your fingers or a pastry blender rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar then make a well in the middle and pour in the milk, two of the eggs and the raisins. Using a wooden spoon mix together until it just comes together to form a soft wet dough.
  • Tip the dough out onto a well floured surface and gently knead by folding the dough in half and then turning through 45 degrees and repeating until the dough is smooth. Be careful not to overwork the dough, this is a light very brief action, you are not kneading the bread, it is more of a fold.
  • Lightly flour the surface of the dough and roll out to about 2.5cm inch thick. Using a 7cm round cookie cutter cut out as many scones as possible. Very gently bring the scraps of the dough back together and cut out more scones. Place the scones on the prepared baking tray and allow to rest for about an hour.
  • Beat the remaining egg together and brush over the tops of the scones (avoid getting any egg on the sides as this will prevent the scones from rising properly). Bake in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  • Best served warm with clotted cream and jam.

Spinach, Bacon and Pea Quiche

Shortcrust pastry
280 g plain flour
Pinch of salt
140 g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
6-8 tbsp ice cold water
1 large egg yolk

Filling
100 ml double cream
100 ml whole milk
4 large eggs
50 g cheddar cheese, grated
150 g cubed pancetta or lardons, cooked until crisp
150 g spinach, wilted and roughly chopped
50 g peas, frozen or fresh

  • Method:

    To make the shortcrust pastry, place the flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the diced butter and pulse until the butter is in small pieces, no bigger than a small pea. Add 6 tbsp of ice cold water and pulse to combine. At this point check the consistency of the dough. If you can squeeze some of the dough together and it holds its shape then it is ready, if it crumbles add the remaining water and pulse to combine.

  • Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently bring together into a uniform dough. Press into a flat disc and refrigerate for about an hour before using.
  • To make the filling, preheat the oven to 200°C (180C fan) and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place the cream, milk and eggs into a large bowl and whisk together to combine. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the peas and stir together the combine, seasoning with a little salt and pepper.
  • Once the pastry has chilled roll out on a lightly floured work surface into a round large enough to line a loose bottomed 9-inch tart tin. Gently drape the pastry into the tart tin and carefully press into the pan, pressing into the corners so the pastry sits flush. Trim off the excess and chill the pastry case in the freezer for 15 minutes. Line the chilled pastry case with parchment paper and fill with baking beans or rice and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes before removing the beans and the parchment and baking for a further 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove the tart shell from the oven and reduce the temperature to 180°C (160C fan).
  • Brush the inside of the pastry case with the egg yolk and place back into the oven for a couple of minutes to seal. The egg yolk creates a barrier so that the filling doesn’t make the pastry soggy. Pour the filling into the tart shell and sprinkle with the peas. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the custard has just set and is very lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool fully before serving.
  • Best served on the day made.

Italian bubble and squeak

Ingredients

– 1 head of cavolo nero (10 leaves)

– 1 baking potato, cubed into Parmentier size

– Half a block of taleggio or gorgonzola cheese (stilton would work also)

– 1 pack of air cured/dried ham. Preferably prosciutto di parma

– 3 burford brown eggs

– Half a packet of pine nuts

– Chives

 

Method

  1. Chop the potatoes into small cubes, size of a dice and sautee in butter for a few minutes.
  2. Into a pan of boiling, salted water, pop in the cavolo nero for just less than a minute, remove and cool immediately in ice water
  3. Toast pine nuts, set to one side
  4. Grease a terracotta dish/oven dish with a little butter and add the potatoes and cabbage in layers, before dotting with the parma ham, cheese. Break the eggs over the top and bake.
  5. Finish with the pine nuts and chives

Clam linguine

Ingredients

100g fresh linguine

30g Palourde clams

1 litre of fish stock

1 stalk of Fresh parsley

5-6 Good cherry tomatoes

1 fresh red chilli

1 clove purple garlic

Glass of white wine

Bottarga

Salt

Pepper

Good olive oil

 

Method

  1. Chop garlic fine, into hot olive oil. Add parsley stalks. Sweat. Add clams and white wine, tomatoes, cook off, chuck in the chilli and cook covered.
  2. 2 Minutes before the clams are done (they will have opened up) drop the pasta into boiling water.
  3. Remove pasta after a couple of minutes, add to pan with lots of fresh parsley. Serve with more olive oil and grated Bottarga.

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