Next year’s dates coming soon!

October 26th, 2013
Lunch on a smoking course at The Wild Boar

Lunch on a smoking course at The Wild Boar

We will be getting our heads together before the end of October to put 2014 smoking course dates on the calendar – thanks for your patience!

In the meantime there are still places available to learn to smoke with Smoky Jo at The Wild Boar – a lovely coaching in with its own smokehouse, near Windermere, Cumbria.  Courses are on Saturday 2nd November 2013 and 23rd… thesecover the same as we do at Shap (about 12 different foods on 5 or 6 different smokers) but instead of tasters and a glass of fizz at 4 pm all the food is left in the kitchen and we get together about 7 pm for a banquet prepared by chef from all our smoked food and some of theirs… wine is on the table and guests can join smokers for just £30 a head…  bookings may be made direct with The Wild Boar on 01539 445 225.

 

Smoky Flavours, Science and Big Fish

October 19th, 2013
Huda and the big trout!

Huda and the big trout!

The record for biggest fish caught on a Smoky Jo’s course has fallen twice in the last couple of months…

On our most recent two day smoking course we were delighted to welcome Dr Huda Al-Kateb from the University of the West of England Health and Life Sciences department.  Her specialist subject? All sorts of food chemistry! She is a Council Member of the British Society of Flavourists  and an expert in flavour and perfume analysis.

As well as a chemist’s interest in smoking she had the enthusiast’s excitement in creating her own smoked foods here at Smoky Jo’s.  Never before has a guest asked to put glass vials in our various smokers and collect samples of smoke and food!  We look forward to hearing a little of what she learns about food smoking in a wardrobe….

Huda also broke the record at Bessy Beck – although she left it late in the day she caught a two pound ten ounce rainbow trout – suitably brined and smoked on the following day!

I post this as we await the arrival of guests for the last smoking course of 2013 at Shap… places are still available at The Wild Boar, though!

 

 

 

Updates on the gallery and smoked morsels at the Shap Chippy

September 18th, 2013

This summer has been fairly frenetic for we foodies in Cumbria.  As well as touring with the Smoky Jo show (well, CLA game fair, Food & Company, Wild Boar and Shap) we have been adding some rather splendid items to the menu at Shap Chippy.

I have finally caught up with the gallery – so if you think we had missed a course or two – you were right, but some great pics are there now.  Check out the HUGE (2 lb 5 oz) trout Doreen caught on the bait lake at Bessy Beck.  We brined it, cold smoked it in Florence the Filing cabinet and then slowly baked it.

For a perfect smoked trout it should ideally be starved before being “despatched” (not easy if it’s swimming wild, obviously) then allowed to go through rigor mortis before being brined for a couple of hours.  After rinsing it should be allowed to dry and mature a little over night before being cold or hot smoked – or both.

So what of Shap Chippy? We have a wonderful meaty sausage from Cocklakes farm shop which we cold smoke before deep frying… it’s called the “Smoky Jo”.  But the real surprise is the smoked halloumi fritters – excellent on their own, but with the curry sauce (also vegetarian friendly) they are sensational!

We have banana fritter on the menu… next stop smoked banana fritters!

Sri Lanka cooking – spice and steam and heat, but no smoke!

August 23rd, 2013

I was going to add a picture of some fabulous smoked chicken from last weekend’s course but that will have to wait as I have just found an unpublished draft of something I wrote last October – shame on me! It’s brought my taste bud memory to life…

Firstly I have added some pictures to my previous Sri Lankan blog post…

But I thought I would also add some pictures from my cooking lessons at Habarana.  Jayanthi, who manages the Ficuus Grove guest house is not only a gracious hostess but a wonderful chef and tutor.  Over two days I learned the basic skills and ingredients for Sri Lankan fish, meat and vegetable curries as well as their traditional side dishes – rice, pittu, Kiribath, rotti, hoppers… and George’s favourite dahl, in it’s many forms (and spellings!)….

Jayanthi, wonderful cook

Jayanthi, wonderful cook

Pithu steaming

Pithu steaming

Pitthu being served

Pitthu being served

Roti

Roti – a flat bread

A chicken curry

A chicken curry

Drumstick curry

Drumstick curry

The best daal in the world

The best daal in the world

Mixed vegatables

Mixed vegatables

spice and colour

spice and colour

Taking notes

Taking notes

 

 

 

A return visit to Food & Company and looking forward to the CLA game fair this weekend

July 17th, 2013

This coming weekend Smoky Jo will once again be demonstrating as much smoking as she can in a short space of time at the CLA Game Fair at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire.  She is on in the Cookery Demonstration Theatre on Saturday and Sunday and hopes to see old and new friends there!

Last Friday we had a wonderful evening – it was work, but sisters Joan and Margaret are such warm hosts our smoking toils are made so much easier… also they do a lot of the behind the scenes stuff, so I just tend fires and watch baby swallows learning to fly.

Hot smoke at Mire House

Hot smoke at Mire House

Food and Company hospitality

Food and Company hospitality

Baby swallows - one flew one crashed and I returned it to the roof

Baby swallows – one flew one crashed and I returned it to the roof

Smoking Pimms

Smoking Pimms

All those attending were not only interested in smoking food but passionate about all kinds of good food – joining the guests for the meal was lovely – and while I hope the smoked treats were highlights for them the pudding of a chocolate and salt caramel tart with strawberries, a Beaujolais syrup and home made double meringues will be my lasting memory!  Well, that and the smoked Pimms…

 

 

As you may have seen from our web site we can offer exclusive smoking courses for corporate or private groups – and Food & Company would be happy to host it!

 

 

 

 

Shap Chippy goes smoky and we welcome new hens

June 14th, 2013
Guests wanting to try their smoked chicken rather than have their photo taken!

Guests wanting to try their smoked chicken rather than have their photo taken!

We had a cracking course last week and I have had so many emails this week from past attendees who have kept up the smoking!We are looking forward to a two day course tomorrow, I am doing paperwork at home, waiting for B & B smokers and Jo is frying at the Chippy.  We have added two smoked items to our menu – smoked halloumi fritters (more halloumi smoking even as I write) and the “Smoky Jo”.  This is our own rather magnificent version of the smoky – traditional chip shop sausage – and it is getting some good feedback.  It’s only been on the menu a couple of days so a lot of the feedback is from our staff – but they are honest!

But I am confusing myself, this is the smokeblog…  When we ran the Old Smokehouse at Brougham Hall, having tried various companies we settled on Davd South as our cheese supplier.  They were based in Manchester but seemed to have a personal touch and good service.  Nine years on and in need of cheese I googled them and found the same personal service – in spite of the fact that they are now a national company called the Cheese Cellar.  Still have pleasant staff and good service – and through chatting to Telesales Advisor  Janine I discovered another food blogger with a penchant for cats!

We also welcomed some new arrivals last week – hens!  Some readers will know that one morning I went to let our hens out – but they did not emerge.  I opened the big door and they were all dead… and asleep in the laying box was a badger.  We have left it a while to replace them as we didn’t want the badger thinking dinner was available on a regular basis and we now have Mertle, Oranjeboom, Mabel and Petal to lay breakfast eggs and to eat anything we drop by mistake.  Mabel in particular is showing disruptive tendencies!

Mabel and Petal hens enjoying the sunshine

Mabel and Petal hens enjoying the sunshine

 

 

 

A May-time catch up!

May 27th, 2013

NB Places still available at The Wild Boar this Thursday! – Please contact the hotel direct on 01539 445225

Since my last post we have been settling in at the Shap Chippy, running a couple of Stepping Off courses and smoking here in Shap and at The WIld Boar near Windermere.

Stovetop smoking in the Wild Boar kitchen

Stovetop smoking in the Wild Boar kitchen

The Wild Boar course was great fun – working with the Wild Boar heaad chef Marc Sanders to run a day for the chef’s from all the English Lakes Groups hotels.  They won’t all be setting up smokehouses but they will be using the great facility at The Wild Boar and then creating their own dishes for the menus at The Midland hotel, Low Wood etc…Our two day course had a weather forecast of torrential rain for the whole of Saturday, so everyone was well equipped with serious wet-weather gear for the trout fishing, but not a drop of rain fell!  A disappointment, I fear for those of us who were anticipating an early escape to the cafe for coffee and cake.

Ben Prangell and his family smoking at Smoky Jo's

Ben Prangell and his family smoking at Smoky Jo’s

We followed the weekend with a course for four members of the same family who had been trying to arrange a convenient date for all of them plus us for over a year – but they finally made it and it was a really fun day with some lovely smoked food, as ever… “Hi Both – many thanks for a great day on Monday – we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and have just got back to Suffolk and consumed the food we prepared – lovely.” – Thanks Lynn!

Lots more pics on the gallery.

Courses and a new project…

May 5th, 2013

Smoky Jo has a very low boredom threshold and when she had finished writing the book and a training contract came to an end she looked around for a new project… and found it.  www.ShapChippy.co.uk .  A mile and a half away at the bottom of the hill; We have had to fix major building faults and completely refurbish it but we are now building a good team and getting good fish and chips out to a patient public!

Meanwhile smoking hasn’t been neglected and we have had some terrific courses…

Sunny smoking in Shap

Sunny smoking in Shap

Making sausages to smoke

Making sausages to smoke

DSCF7160 (640x480)

Fabulous hot smoked salmon ready to eat

Catching a trout to brine and smoke

Catching a trout to brine and smoke

 

 

Welcome to you hardy food smokers!

April 7th, 2013
Florence the filing cabinet smoker

Florence the filing cabinet smoker, close to the house to try and find some shelter

It was lovely to fire up Florence the Filing Cabinet Smoker and the rest of the gang on Friday for the first Shap Smoking course of 2013!  Once again I find myself tempted to write more about the weather than the food… yes it’s April, yes it snowed, yes it sleeted, yes it was bitterly cold but NO, we were not defeated!

Most of our smokers were relatively local with Mike and Trish the most distant having travelled from Chester; at least two had at least semi-professional interest in food smoking.  Edwina runs a stunningly high quality establishment near Newbiggin on Lune (very close to Bessy Beck trout farm, where we fish on our two day course and all our trout for smoking comes from).  Cheskin House is a wonderful cross between a top end B & B with meals and a restaurant with rooms.  The wine cellar is a particular attraction…

I have put some pictures on the main site gallery but here is one of the smokers huddling in the shed as the snow whistles by…

Huddling in the smoking shed as the snow whistles by

Huddling in the smoking shed as the snow whistles by

A question of smoked lamb…

March 21st, 2013

Just had a query from a former Smoky Jo guest which I thought worth sharing…
Hey guys, just touching base & hopefully picking you’re brains a little.
I have recently attempted to cold smoke a lamb joint (a whole leg that I boned out).
I used an 80% brine with pickling spice & extra rosemary for 24 hours in a fridge. Then after rinsing, cold smoked overnight in my barrel smoker.
Unfortunately the result after slow roasting in the oven, was something that resembled salt beef & was pretty much inedible.
Having consulted your book, you suggest a 40% brine- which I will try next time, but I wondered if you had any suggestions, hints or tips for lamb?

Hope you are both well.
Regards, Vaughan.

Hi,
Smoked lamb should be superb… I’m sorry yours was not so good!  80% brine would be required if you were not going to cook it – ie just eat it cold smoked, thinly sliced like Parma ham.  A 40% brine should be perfect – but if you are particularly sensitive to over salting you can reduce it even further if you are going to cook it through.  I think the salt improves the texture and ensures all the juices are full of flavour.
We used to roll it in oil and rosemary prior to hot smoking it, then serve it with an orange (and rosemary) jelly… mmmmm….
Good luck!
Georgina