Langoustine and Tomato Tagliatelle!

The allotment is knocking out some great produce at the moment, especially tomatoes. So I thought I’d try a Marcus Wareing recipe. Langoustine from our local fish monger, well I say local, 7ish miles away, can you believe we live on the east coast of Durham and there’s one fish monger of I know. Anyway I digress, tomatoes, shallots, basil, chili and garlic from our allotment. Tell ya what, it was bluming gorgeous!

Chop a good handful of cherry (sized) tomatoes in half.

Chop up a couple cloves of garlic.

Chop a chilli into small pieces, leave in seeds if you want a bit of heat.

Chop a shallot up into small bits.

Finely slice 2 Basil leaves.

Ok, drop a couple of nests of Tagliatelle into boiling water. Fry the garlic and shallots in a frying pan with a splash olive oil. After a couple of minutes put in the tomatoes for a few minutes while you cook your Langoustines separately. Add the cooked Langoustine, then the basil and chilli. When Tagliatelle is al-dente, drain off water and add to the sauce. Mix in the pasta and serve.

Homegrown Roasted Tomato Soup

It’s started – the polytunnel is producing fruit. As usual, we planted too many tomato plants. We got Shirley’s, Beef, Money Makers, the purple cherry etc. However, Mrs Hiker isn’t a big lover of them so we have a couple of months of lots of tomatoes. So, I have come up with a basic recipe for a soup. Here goes:


A good handful of assorted tomatoes.

A glug of olive oil

Sea salt, ground pepper, mixed dried herbs

A vegetable stock pot

You’ll probably see I’ve thrown a green pepper and a courgette in for good measure too

All I do is get a roasting pan and pour some olive oil on the bottom. Chop the tomatoes etc in half and space out evenly. Season with the salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Whack in the oven for half hour on 180°c. Boil 500ml of water and make the stock. Once fruit is roasted blitz with the stock. Jobs a good ‘un!

Serve with rosemary focaccia which I’m sure I’ve blogged before!

Home Smoked Mackerel

I’ve got a mate, well I’ve got a few, who like to go fishing, in particular sea fishing and he text me other day asking if I wanted a few Mackerel as he’d had a good session out on the pier and had a few spare.  Snapped his hand off and he brought 3 decent sized fish over much to the dismay of Mrs Hiker who does not like fish, apart from fish and chips but she always complains about the smell…even when they don’t smell!


I put them straight in the freezer before Mrs. Hiker came home from work so she couldn’t complain.  She found them a few days later but couldn’t complain as they were frozen and smell free. 

A few days went passed and what I was looking for was a day of good weather, this was because I was wanting to smoke at least one of the fish and my smoker is at the allotment.  Now, I have usually looked at weather Apps in the past when I wanted to know the weather…obviously.  In fact, I might do a weather App blog one day as I do use them quite a bit.  

Anyway I digress, I checked the weather App that’s been pretty much spot on over the Virus period and decided the day after I would get a bit of fair weather.  So I had to cure the fish before I smoked it, now I use a very basic cure recipe and have done for some time.  Basically, I use half salt and half brown sugar and just a few turns of cracked black pepper into the mix.  I put the cure mix into a click lock plastic box and with the fish and give it a good shake, making sure the fish has a good covering.  Pop the lot into the fridge overnight to draw the moisture out.


Back to the cure mixture, like I said I’ve used this mix for a few years and not had any problems.  I have an old war buddy who lives in Japan who owns a curing and smoking business and I ran the mix passed him and he said it’s basically the same as his mix, apart from he uses some expensive sugar which smells like treacle, but apart from that, basic is best.


Next morning I retrieve the box from the fridge and open.  The mixture should have set firm with the moisture from the fish and the fish should be a little more rigid than when you put it in.  Wash the fish thoroughly to get all the salty mix off as much as you can.  Wrap the fish up in a bit of tin foil and Bob’s your uncle.   

Like I said, my smoker is at the allotment so I packed up the fish and some Jack Daniel’s smoking chips that I was just about to use the last of.  I’ve had a bag for some time and were still kicking out some great smoke.  I took, what I call my Bushcraft bag, and me and the dog walked to the allotment.   

My smoker is a very basic contraption.  I think I bought it from Aldi years ago, it’s one that is also a pizza oven and BBQ.  It’s bent to buggery with over use and from having roaring fires in it in the winter, but with a bit of brute force the doors can still be closed to keep in the smoke.  I set a small fire away in the smoker to get a good pile of embers going for me to sprinkle my smoking chips on.  I also threw a couple of apple wood split logs on for extra flavour.  I did a few odd jobs about the plot until the wood burns to nice silver and red embers then I sprinkled the rest of the bag of chips onto the smouldering pile.  I placed the fish onto the upper tray in the smoker and closed the chimney and the doors at the front of the smoker.  Almost immediately I could smell the chips smouldering away and hopefully smoke getting into the knucks and crannies of the Mackerel.   

After about ten minutes I struggled to open the vent on the smoker, I told you it’s bent to bits, and I could see the fish turning a lovely brown tint.  I left it a few more minutes and then open all the vents.  Oh the smell, the smell!!! The plot was full of a mixture of smoked mackerel and the apple wood, shame I couldn’t capture for smell a-vision!    

I carefully picked the fish of the rack and placed it into some fresh tinfoil.  By this time the dog was going crackers with the smell, he was almost humping me trying to get at the fish. 

I did a couple more jobs just so the rest of the embers were out and I didn’t miss one and burn the site down, the rest of the plot holders wouldn’t appreciate me cooking all their veggies in one go! 

Back at home I striped the fish away from the bone and skin, which was easy as it was nicely hot smoked and the flakes of flesh were dropping off.  Now I didn’t weigh the fish at the start so couldn’t really say how much meat I got off but it was a good old mug full.  I put the fish into my food processor and added about ¾ of a pot of Crème Fraiche and a squeeze of lemon and blitzed it, purposely leaving some flakes of meat visible for texture.  No seasoning need as the curing process does slightly season the fish.   

I pinched a half pound jar out of Mrs. Hiker’s preserve store and scooped it in.  To give you an idea of how much it makes, it covered 6 slices of bread spread thickly.  I cannot tell you how long it lasts for as I’ve usually eaten it all within the week…easily!    

‘And sow it begins!!!!’


Following our relatively successful first year with our new allotment, we are starting the new year off with smiles on our face.  And to start off we sowed our first seeds today to be kept indoors until Spring .

Cauliflower, Brocolli , Shirley Tomatoes and some Sweet Peas all tucked up in compost ready for the Winter to finish, if we have one that is, and then up to the plot.

Just a short one this time but will hopefully remember to blog the progress of our ‘two’ plots! Continue reading “‘And sow it begins!!!!’”

Rosemary and Parmesan Focaccia

Obviously this isn’t my own personal recipe but one borrowed from a decent northern chef!

Anyway, back to some cooking.

Get your ingredients sorted:

375g strong white bread flour 

7g of yeast

About 225ml lukewarm water 

40ml olive oil, maybe a bit more to tart it up at the end.

50g Parmesan cheese.

Slack hand full of Rosemary leaves and keep your sea salt handy.

Putting it all together:

Put flour into mixing bowl, put the yeast on one side and some salt on’t other (they don’t mix raw).  Make a well in the middle and add a bit of the water and oil and mix it up. Add the rest of the water and oil and make a stretchy dough. Kneed it on a floured surface till your arms ache a bit (15 mins) . You can use a mixer if you are a lazy git. 

When it’s nice and stretchy and your hands an’t got any of the mix stuck to them. Put some oil in a bowl and put the dough in, brush some oil on’t top with a fancy brush like I bought owa lass for Christmas. Put some cling film on’t top and let it prove for what seems ages, but about an hour!

When it’s got about twice as big, put it on an oiled baking tray, make it onto a rectangle sort of shape, flattening it a bit. Brush some more olive oil on and cover again for about half hour, till it’s got about twice as big!

Pre heat stove on about 200°c.

After a bit, give the dough a good old prod and sprinkle the Rosemary leaves on top and grate the cheese on it. Seems like there’s loads of cheese but bear with me. Put it all on and some more salt. I didn’t say it was healthy did I!?

Whack in’t stove for about 20-25mins or until golden brown.  

If you want, drizzle a bit more olive oil on when you take it out.

I’ve got some chilli olive oil to dip it in or some marinated feta cheese with chili, garlic and basil oil to dip it in! Find the recipe here

Roast Pepper and Tomato Soup

Found this recipe on line but it looks quite healthy, uses up peppers and tomatoes that are on’t turn.

800 grams tomatoes (preferrably left to ripen in a sunny kitchen and then halved or quartered depending on the size, or left whole if cherry tomatoes)

1 large onion (cut into chunky slices)

2 red peppers (deseeded and cut into chunky pieces)

6 cloves garlic (left whole in skins)

olive oil (a generous drizzle)

sea salt

black pepper

500 millilitres vegetable stock 

tabasco (a few dashes, to taste)


Preheat the oven to 200C
Add the tomatoes, red peppers, onion and garlic to a baking tray, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil. Mix it all around with your hands.

Bake for about 30-45 minutes until the veg are sweet and just slighly charred

Bring the stock to the boil and add the Worcestershire and tabasco sauces

Pick out the garlic from the roasted vegetables and squeeze the juicy garlic flesh out into the stock, discarding the skinsAdd the rest of the vegetables

Puree using a hand blender, but not too smooth – a bit of texture is very nice here.

 Top Meatballs…

When I was young I can always remember having Campbell’s meatballs when camping with my parents. I love Italian food so I thought I’d make my own, instead of buying a tin of the ‘mechanically extracted’ variety in a can.


500g minced beef 

300g minced pork

One large egg

A good handful of breadcrumbs 

Ground pepper

Ground sea salt 

Glug of Olive Oil


500g Passata 

Two cloves of garlic  (finely chopped)

Handful of basil (finely chopped)


Put the minced beef, pork, egg and breadcrumbs in a big bowl and get your hands in and mix it all up. Get it squelching between your fingers! Season with the salt and pepper.  With your hands, make golf ball size meatballs and brown off in the oil in a frying pan.

As you can see there should be approx 28 balls. I only use about half of these and put the rest in the freezer for another day.  

Put the Passata in a pan and mix in the garlic and basil.  Add about 12-14 meatballs to the sauce and simmer for about 15-20 mins.  Season sauce to taste.

Serve with spaghetti or any carb of your liking.

Another look up Roseberry Topping!

I have a few friends from work who like the outdoors, we go on small dog walks and generally get together about once every two months (if we’re lucky) and take Alfie out for a leg stretch.  We have a ‘What’s App’ chat group where we basically chat about anything and take the piss every chance we get too.

During one of these chats my friend Shiv stated she had never been up Roseberry Topping, which is situated in the hills in North Yorkshire, or Cleveland if you want.  So, we decided to meet up and have a walk up the tiny hill.



Seeing as we all work shifts finding a date would be hard but managed to find a day we were all off, and would you believe it, the weather was even nice to us.

I’ve blogged about Roseberry before but it’s always nice to revisit and share different experiences.  We all meet at ours and drive down the A19 and head for the hills.  In the lovely little village of Great Ayton a quick left turn up Dikes Lane and before we knew it we were at the car park putting our boots on.  We started walking up the path which heads north up onto the heather and the awesome views that stretch across for miles and miles.





We walked next the dry-stone wall which is an easy way of knowing you’re going in the right direction as it keeps with you the whole way.  Once we all got our breath back it was time to start taking the micky out of each other.  As anyone who knows

and does the work we do, getting the piss ripped out of you is a sign of affection.  With a mixture of food chat and light hearted insults, the junction in the wall where we turned left was up on us before we knew it.  From here you can see the path up Roseberry, which to be fair looks quite steep from this distance, but at least the drop down to the start of the path gave us a chance to build up the enough steam to march to the top which we did quite quick.

The night before, Kel had knocked up some Millionaire Shortbread and Lemon Drizzle Cake for the top after our sarnies, well to be honest, she had only made the Shortbread but she was guilt tripped into making the Lemon Drizzle by Lou so she knocked one up just for her.  The top was busy and we settled down to stuff our faces and take in the view.

The top is covered in graffiti, or rather ‘etchings’ with ‘art’ stretching back to 1881 which, I can quite imagine the Victorians spending the day on the top taking in the view of the mines and the smog.  After half an hour of munching and being robbed of any remaining lemon Cake by Lou we made our way down the way we came.

The journey back was filled with the workings of a ‘She Wee’ and the appearance of a football on the route which wasn’t there on the way in.  Lou couldn’t get her head round the shape and the ‘fittings’ of the female urination equipment.  Kel didn’t make the conversation any better by saying the last time she used it, “It squirted out the back!”  And the football, well that’s still a mystery, although if it was a youngster who brought it with him and left it there to collect after he’d summited Roseberry, Alfie didn’t help by hiding it in the heather. 

Towards the end of the route the talk turned to a conversation that is well ploughed during any of these walks: my accent!  I’ve lived in the north-east for nearly 20 years now and have known people for the best apart of that, but my accent is still a source of amusement.  I don’t mind to be fair and find it funny!

Back at the cars the talk turned to the pub and where to go, we found a nice little place in the village where of all places we started talking to a chap from Easington who had been in Yorkshire for 30 years.

Great day and lovely weather to boot, back to Casa De La Hyde for Toad in’t Hole!







Thrifty Chicken Noodle Soup

I think almost everyone is being thrifty with everything they do in life now, perhaps more so with food than anything else.  So when it comes to Sunday dinner we generally look for seasonal veg the day before that have been ‘woopsied’ and cheap as chips (forgive the pun).chicken-stock-3-method-4.jpg


We do however go to the local butcher for our meat.  I can hear people saying “the butchers are well expensive!” and I do agree, however I am a firm believer of keeping local shops busy and open.  The other reason we use our very local butcher (100 metres away from Casa De Hyde) is the quality is loads better.  Take a chicken for example, we strip the bird down to the very bare bone, making use of everything, giblets included.  The amount of meat we get off a butcher bought chicken nearly doubles the meat from a supermarket, I promise.  The meat does us about 3 or 4 different meals with a few bits that I use for the following meal.20140929-chicken-stock-vicky-wasik-13.jpg

After the chicken is stripped down, the carcass goes straight into a pan of boiling water and left to simmer for about an hour.  Sieve the contents of the pan and you can freeze the stock for another day or use straight away.

I whacked the stock into a large pan and added boiling water.  A half-used bag of egg noodles took the plunge at this point and some red pepper and spring onion from the freezer was added.  I stole some of the prepped veg from the planned Sunday dinner and put in the pan.  We picked some early wild garlic the day before so I chopped that up and threw that in too.  A frozen green chili was chopped up into very small pieces and went in too.  My other half is not partial to chicken leg meat (I know she’s a bit weird) so seeing as this pot is for me only, shredded everything but breast meat went in with seasoning to taste.  Boiled until the noodles were cooked and the jobs a good ‘un!



As you see by the pictures I got 4 takeaway sized portions from this pot which I use for my baits at work.  While most of my work mates are forking our £3-£4 a meal from the local eatery, I’ve spent about 70 pence on the noodles, plus the leftovers probably costing about 50 pence a tub.  Plus, you know exactly where all the food is from as its been cooked from scratch.