This week I have been catching up on Raymond Blanc’s How to Cook Well series on BBC iplayer. I’m not normally the biggest fan of his shows, but I like the set up of these and to be honest it is great to be able to fast forward through the less interesting stuff onto those recipes and processes that interest me.

I like the restaurant tips but my favourite bits of programme are those he shares with an expert in a related field. There were two that particularly caught my attention. Firstly there was Dave Pynt. I was peeved when I realised I missed his Burnt Enz pop up last year as I have had Etxebarri at the top of my dream list for some time now, and this would have been my closest connection which didn’t involve a flight. So to see him doing fabby things with leeks, scallops and a firepit just made me sad….and as committed as ever to get to that Spanish top 50 restaurant. Anyone fancy?

Nathan Mills with Raymond

Nathan Mills with Raymond

But the recipe of all recipes that tempted me was the slow cooked Asian flavoured beef shin, although I would replace the papaya salad with something more hearty like mash! Raymond shared this segment with butcher Nathan Mills of The Butchery fame. Nathan claimed he was the only London butcher cutting from the carcass but that simply isn’t true as I have been working for the whole of this year with the guys from Laverstoke Park Farm and both their shops on the farm and in Twickenham work with carcasses which are delivered direct from the organic, biodynamic farm. Still, Nathan did demonstrate the benefit of carcass butchery showing a host of cuts that are not generally available. I immediately rang the Twickenham shop manager, Andy, ordered my piece of beef shin and planned a weekend feast.

Laverstoke Park Farm Shop in Twickenham

Laverstoke Park Farm Shop in Twickenham

There is no doubt that buying meat from a qualified butcher is the best way to go and when the meat is as wonderful as this, I feel a responsibility to do something special. The hanging carcasses in the shop are fabulously visual and not just for theatre, but genuinely the best way to retail meat. In the hands of qualified farmers and butchers, you understand the full value of great quality meat and how you should be eating it.

Shin of Laverstoke Park organic beef

Shin of Laverstoke Park Farm organic beef

Butcher and shop manager Andy cut me a wonderful piece of beef shin which was the centrepiece of a fabulous lunch housed chez Jones. Their rooftop terrace is a celebration of Eug’s greenfingers and as it is right in the heart of Westminster, you are greeted with the chimes of Big Ben to remind you of the day passing in glorious sunshine. JR was also in attendance and at the last minute the lovely Mr and Mrs Flapjack Foods joined with award winning produce, more of which later. So the pressure was on to do the shin justice.

The pig looks on...

I have to admit that I did adapt the recipe a bit. Firstly I substituted lovely banana shallots for white onions to add more sweetness and then I upped the ante on all the Asian flavours. Half a chilli was now 2 chillis, 1/2 tsp five spice was more like a tblsp and I kind of splashed around with the other ingredients to really bump up the volume. In the end, we agreed it was absolutely the right things to do and could even have stumped up a bit more. We went with stir fried noodles with garlic broccoli and ginger carrots to accompany and four and a half hours later, lunch was served.

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Everyone agreed it was totally yummy and I would certainly make it again. Very easy, very tasty and a great example of the benefits of slow cooking.

2* Great Taste Award Carrot cake from Flapjack Fabulous Food

2* Great Taste Award Carrot cake from Flapjack Fabulous Food

Dessert was presented by Mrs Flapjack Fabulous Food. It was her signature carrot cake which recently won TWO stars at the Great Taste Awards. The best in carrot cake class by a whole star and well deserved it was too. She and hubby make the most wonderful cakes for their business alongside a whole host of other yumminess and we all understood why she was such a winner this year.

Chez Jones rooftop revelling

Chez Jones rooftop revelling

So another lovely weekend lunch with friends, sunshine and lovely food. As they say on Masterchef…it doesn’t get better than this.

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