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Pork chops and spring gems

After the harsh winter (thankfully an ever-more distant memory now we’re firmly into May) the recent bout of superb spring weather has brought welcome warmth and cheer in more than one way. Spring heralds two of our favourite fresh British delights: wild garlic, and asparagus. We’ve already written about both on several occasions, but with seasonal goodies this great, I’m not ashamed to sing their praises a little more. They provided the perfect partnership to prime Pennine pork last month.
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Ham, cheese and malt toastie heaven

Sometimes simple pleasures are the best. For me, this ticks all the boxes: great local cheese, great local ham, and not-quite-so local but equally great bread. The cheese was the remains of some of the original Calderdale Cheese which needed eating up, and I had a few small pieces of the air-dried ham left over, so I whipped up a bit of a rarebit-like mix. Miss South was visiting at the time I made this (this post is prompted by me finding these photos from early in the year), so I raided my stash of precious Veda bread from the freezer in celebration.

Veda, you say? Yes, these are slices of Veda bread (truly one of the high points of Northern Irish baking culture), and for the uninitiated, Veda is a dark, malty loaf. A bit like Soreen, but without the fruit, and not as dense a mix. It seems at one time Veda was widely available across the UK, but over time tastes have changed and the last remaining backwater of the country to keep Veda in a place close to their heart is Norn Irn. Several bakeries still produce it over there, but try as I might I’ve never managed to track it down on this side of the Irish Sea.

Miss South and I grew up eating (and loving) the humble Veda bread. One wouldn’t do much with it… possibly toast it, or add a few slices of mature Cheddar… the slightly sweet malty flavour, and almost sticky texture was enough. I’d often eat half a loaf of this diminutive loaf in one sitting: something encouraged by the fact Veda never comes sliced, so you tend to cut off big doorstep-like wodges to toast. I’m salivating at the very prospect, just writing this now… I’ll be filling a suitcase with Veda next time I go back to see family. Over the years I’ve converted more than a few folk to the exquisite delights of Veda… I would dearly love to proselytise further. Let me know if you fancy a slice of Veda toast some time!

Giving thanks for ham and turkey eggs

Ah, turkey eggs. Not quite as rare as hen’s teeth, but still something you don’t see every day. I was lucky enough to be given one a couple of years ago by a colleague whose dad works with a lot of farmers (and I made a 3 egg frittata, with hen, duck and turkey egg… wow!) Thanks to Mr S for that experience…

I’ve been trying to source them ever since, but there are two fundamental issues in tracking down turkey eggs. Number 1: turkeys don’t lay as many eggs as, say, your average chicken. Many fewer, in fact, so that many eggs are actually fertilized and used to grow little turkey chicks. Number 2: they taste rather wonderful as well, so even if they’re not going to be used to expand the turkey population, only somebody benevolent or with bounteous quantities of spare eggs is actually going to allow other non-poultry farmer types to sample them.

As you can see, they’re delightfully speckled and have a distinctive pointed end – not sure if this makes them any easier to pass – turkeys often look rather aggrieved so perhaps not. They also have a very flavoursome taste and a creamy consistency.

I was lucky enough to have been given a few as a birthday present by my friends from Porcus up at Height Top Barn this morning, alongside picking up my bread order, so I resolved to make a luxurious breakfast. First I toasted a couple of slices of wonderful home-made bread, generously buttered it and covered it with some torn air-dried ham, before finishing with two poached turkey eggs and a good dose of freshly ground black pepper. As the photo above might suggest, such a simple and classic combination as ham and eggs was taken to the next level with this delightful breakfast plate.

So, if you ever get the chance to sample a turkey egg, don’t let it slip through your fingers. Although my final advice would be that, due to the thickness of their shells (equal to goose eggs) even if they do slip through your fingers they may well land intact. They just won’t be around for long afterwards!