Last week I had the honour of working with one of my heroes from yesteryear – Sir Roger Moore, what a gentleman! He really is that charming and so self-effacing. I was lucky enough to chat to him for about 40 minutes before the show and he has a wonderful sense of humour and an incredible memory for facts from his illustrious film and TV career.
It's quite amazing to think it was 40 years ago this month that he first donned the famous dinner jacket of 007. But I first watched him as 'The Saint' and in 'The Persuaders' with Tony Curtis – I was a little too young to recall him in 'Ivanhoe'. Sadly the picture of myself and Sir Roger is not of high quality, due to low light; I'm nevertheless very grateful that it was taken at all – thanks to Charlotte in PR !
Talking of dinner jackets, I hope you were able to catch our 13th Breast Cancer Care charity show on Wednesday. There were too many people involved to thank individually, but it was a great event and raised a huge total; as I write I don't have the final amount, but I would like to thank anyone who bought from the show or donated to this very worthwhile charity.
If you missed the hilarious John Barrowman on my Saturday Night Gifts show the weekend before last – I've just heard that John is able to join myself and Will Gowing, this Saturday for the next Gift Show – record the other stuff and tune in to us live! Especially if you like great gift ideas and more than a little fun!
The photo of us both was actually taken by John himself, whilst we were in the green room before the show using the amazing Fuji waterproof camera we featured in the show.
On Sunday night into Monday, I'll be launching a wonderful slow cooker TSV from Morphy Richards – this one is quite different from any other I've used in the past, because the inner pot can be used on conventional hobs to sear and brown meat before slow cooking – saves so much time in cleaning up!
Stews now have a very dear place in my heart – please read on:-
When my wife Tracey was expecting our twins, she had to spend nearly 6 months flat on her back in Hammersmith Hospital. I used to visit her every day and bring her creature comforts to try and make her stay more bearable (the staff were amazing by the way – but come on – 6 months in any hospital is an ordeal).
During her stay the doctors were concerned that she had low iron levels in her blood and proposed a lengthy course of very painful injections (she had several injections every day and was no stranger to them) but iron ones were special – when I saw the syringe it looked like a prop from a panto – it was huge! Tracey asked if there was an alternative and the doctors said one other option was a high iron-rich diet like venison!
They felt sure she wouldn't be able to raise the levels naturally but agreed to let us try for a week or so. As fate would have it, my cousin Mark was a gamekeeper and had legitimate access to roe-buck, from the roe deer, not strictly venison but very close. To this day Alex and Jack call Mark 'Uncle Buck' – he looks a little bit like John Candy! Ha ha!
So I set about making regular venison stews adapted from Mark's Scottish based recipe – I also found out that vitamin C was important in the absorption of iron, so I made sure she had plenty of fruit etc.
Well, the doctors were amazed at the sudden increase of iron in her blood and she never had anymore iron injections. I must stress that this was the answer for Tracey in very specific circumstances and if you have low iron levels you must seek medical opinions and not rely on my anecdotal evidence.
So I thought the Morphy Richards 'Sear and Stew' TSV was a great excuse to share 'Uncle Buck's' recipe.
"Uncle Buck's Stew"
1 tbsp olive oil
2.5kgs venison/beef/lamb/chicken (the type of meat and amount can obviously be varied)
Cornflour (plain flour would also work)
2-3 large carrots
Beef/chicken/game stock (approx. 400ml)
Rosemary, thyme or bouquet garni
1. Cut the meat into wholesome chunks and roll in cornflour, fry in olive oil till golden brown. Add the garlic and onions (plus mushrooms and pancetta if using) fry and caramelise together.
2. Add the vegetables and stock – I find that chicken stock works surprisingly well – but for a richer gamier taste use beef or game stock (cubes will work fine) You can also throw in a bouquet garni or seasoning as desired.
3. Switch on your slow cooker and wait for a feast! I leave the slow cooker on low for several hours – again it's up to your tastes. I'm a bit of a fiddler so I'm always checking on it and stirring up the layers as the stew thickens. I'm not a veg lover, so I like my vegetables to become soft and absorb the gorgeous meat juices and I like the consistency to be quite stodgy.
The beauty of this very general recipe is that it is highly adjustable – you could add red wine or even some gravy granules or arrowroot with the cornflour to thicken even more – or add more water if you prefer a lighter consistecy. I've even used chicken instead of venison or beef. For this stew I used Cambrian Mountain Lamb appearing very soon on the Q – quite delicious and the first time I've used "Uncle Buck's" recipe with lamb. Bon apetit!
Stay safe, warm and satiated,