Hash it up

Welcome to the humble, yet delectable, world of the breakfast hash: an easy to cook and adaptable recipe guaranteed to fill your belly while using up those left over odds and sods in your fridge. Rising to prominence during the Second World War in its rationed corned beef based incarnation, the ‘hash’ is now a staple comfort food par excellence.

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The protein

Begin by crisping up any leftover meat or veggie protein in a hot skillet. If you’re lacking leftovers, some bacon or a little chorizo will do just fine. Fry until crisp and transfer to a warm plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the juices in the pan.



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The potato and the allium

Dig out that solitary leek or half an onion from the fridge and dice with some potato or sweet potato. Fry in the pan, throwing in some salt or smoked paprika.


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The veg

Balance it out with some leftover vegetables. We recommend button mushrooms, any weird or wonderful delights from your weekly veg box or some crunchy red peppers. Chop and add to the frying potato and onion.



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The egg

Personally, we think a true hash has to be finished with an egg. Add your meat/protein back to the pan with the veg, then crack a raw egg on top or make a nest for it to sit in. Leave to cook for five minutes until firm.

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The seasoning

Finish with a sprinkling of sea salt, black pepper, parsley and, if you’re feeling indulgent, fresh parmesan. Experiment with other combinations: salmon works well with dill and thyme; spring onion and kale works a treat with duck; tofu and sweet potato hash goes beautifully with turmeric.

Illustrations by Joe Latham

What’s your ultimate hash combo? Share it on Instagram tagging @ernestjournal, using the hashtag #ernesthash

Sourdough Library

Karl De Smedt has travelled to 50 countries on a quest for sourdough starters, to compile and study them at the Puratos Centre for Bread Flavour in Belgium. He invites us into his curious archive…

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First thing’s first, Karl. Why?

One hundred and fifty years ago, bakers yeast was starting to be produced commercially. Comparatively, the sourdough process was very time-consuming, so most bakers abandoned it and the knowledge was lost. I feel that having a library where sourdough can be studied is an important contribution to the world of baking and fermentation.

Tell us bit more about yourself and your background.

I graduated from bakery and patisserie school in 1988. I worked for six years in a confectionary in Brussels before joining Puratos in 1994 as a test baker. That’s where I worked with sourdough for the first time. The sourdough dated to 1989, brought over by a colleague from San Francisco, as part of research to produce sourdough solutions for the company’s customers. You could say this sample was the very first sourdough in our collection.

Since 2008, I’ve been responsible for the Centre for Bread Flavour, a specialist branch at the forefront of the company’s sourdough production efforts, which handles clients from all over the world. It’s here we opened the sourdough library in 2013.

How unique can a final sourdough product be?

Very. We like to compare sourdough to cheese, where the main ingredient is milk, but there are so many different types of cheese, due to the origin of the milk, fermentation temperatures, the ageing, the producer etc.With sourdough, there’s just as much variety – in our library we’ve identified over 900 microorganisms from 108 starters.

I understand that the original creator of each starter also needs to donate yearly supplies of flour to the library for maintenance. So, will this change the outcome of the mix later on?

Indeed, we do ask for a supply of flour from the owners for their sourdough contributions. However, we do that to minimise the impact of change, a protocol recommended to us by Professor Marco Gobbetti from the University of Bolzano and Bari in Italy. We are well aware that the starters might be subject to change. But with Gobbetti’s protocol, the sourdough cultures are kept in optimum conditions to preserve them for longer; we have the micro-organisms stored in a freezer at -80°C and the sourdoughs themselves are stored at 4°C.

When a sourdough enters our library, it’s like taking a picture. We capture that moment – we have the composition of the sourdough at that point in time. That allows us to go back to the bakery after 5, 10 or 20 years to compare the two starters with each other and the original sample. There is no other place in the world that is doing this for sourdough. That’s why this library is so important to us.

Does the library undertake research into the microbes in the starters?

Yes, of course. Through DNA sequencing, we can define each and every microbe that we find in a starter. So far, we have identified more than 900 different ones. We do this in close collaboration with the universities we work with; Professor Gobbetti and his team have already been able to produce a couple of scientific publications as a result of our work together.

Any surprising finds on your quest?

In a starter from Switzerland, made from rye flour, and one from Guadalajara in Mexico, we found the same strain of yeast: Torulaspora delbreucki. It’s a strain often found in premium wines. The only relation we could see between the two is that the bakeries were located at about 1,500 metres altitude. Also, In Canada I met a lady who had a sourdough that dated back to 1896 – her great-grandfather carried it to Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush. I shared her recipe online so our followers could make her waffles.

The sourdough library isn’t open to the public, but Karl and his team are happy to provide tours on request. Find out more at questforsourdough.com

Interview: Matt Iredale

Sea Spaghetti

Caro and Tim of the Cornish Seaweed Company dive into some of the cleanest waters in the world to hand-harvest their unusual bounty – dulse, nori, kelp and sea spaghetti

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Considering seaweed’s abundance and its supreme nutritional value, it’s a wonder we’re not seeing more of this flavoursome superfood on our plates. Try it for yourself – give this crab ‘tagliatelli’ a whirl. If you can’t get hold of crabmeat, prawns work just as well.

Ingredients

50g fresh sea spaghetti or 15g dried sea spaghetti
1 x carrot
1 x courgette
1 x leek
1/2 fresh chill, finely chopped, or 1/2 tsp chilli paste
2 x tomatoes
1 x lemon
1 x garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
600g crabmeat
Ground black pepper

Method

  1. If using dried sea spaghetti, re-hydrate for 10 minutes in cold water, then drain. If using fresh, cut into ribbons about 10cm long.

  2. Thinly slice the carrot, courgette and leek into ribbons. Dice the tomatoes.

  3. Slice the lemon in half and keep one half for squeezing. Cut away the skin and pith then slice the flesh into segments.

  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the garlic, chilli, tomato and crab meat and cook together into a paste for 5 minutes.

  5. Add the vegetable ribbons and the seaweed with 250ml water and the juice from the reserved lemon half. Stir-fry for 5 minutes, then add pepper to taste. Garnish with the pieces of lemon.

Sustainability is at the heart of the Cornish Seaweed Company. Caro and Tim follow a strict code of conduct that ensures no wildlife is disturbed, and harvested areas are left to regenerate.

Pie glossary

From throwaway crusts to royal banquet centrepieces, our beloved pie has a weird and wonderful history stowed away behind its pantry door. 

Illustration by Sue Gent

Illustration by Sue Gent

Cow heel (Cumbria and Lancashire)
The fatty cartilage around a cow’s heel was used to make a sticky and sweet gravy in a pie.

Swan (Nottinghamshire) 
The finest pieces of swan meat, stewed with sugar and spices and served in a Budby pie.

Lambs tail (Cotswolds and Kent) 
After docking the tails from lambs, the wool would be removed, the tails joined and stewed with root veg. Two dozen tails would be required for a pie. 

Sparrow brains
In a courageous tart these were mixed with sweet potatoes and fruit.The name likely refers to the rumoured aphrodisiac qualities of the dish. 

Rook
When young rooks were ‘cleared’ in spring, the breast and legs would be simmered in milk before being baked in a pie.The rest of the bird was too bitter for eating.

Larks
Recommended by Mrs Beeton to be served as an entree, these birds would be baked whole in a pie, bones and all. 

Intestines (Cornwall) 
The appetising sounding muggety pie contained cow entrails, boiled, sliced and mixed with cream and parsley.

Testicles
You could be forgiven for not knowing that ‘stones’ referred to testicles in the 18h century. Blanched and sliced, they were the main ingredient of a lambstone pie, mixed with artichokes and sweetbreads.

Piglests (Cornwall)
Or to be more specific, prematurely born piglets, the main ingredient of a tiddago pie.

Udder
Boiled and sliced with tongue and mixed with raisins, an udder pie was apparently tasty hot or cold.

Words: Steph Wetherell; thelocavore.co.uk

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Venison jerky

Using time-honoured techniques adopted by cultures around the world, Jake and Amie of Jake's Cured Meats are your guides to making the perfect hiking snack.

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You’ve been tracking your prey for hours, then finally you get the shot. You lock it in your sights, take a couple of deep breaths, squeeze the trigger: crack! The animal drops, silence. A moment of reflection, respect for the beast. You remove the entrails, leave for the birds. The inescapable symbiosis of life and death. The march back home begins; the glow of embers awaits you. Skin, butcher, roast, eat. Hunger satisfied, you deal with the remaining meat; rub it with salt and hang it in the fireplace. The smoke flows around the meat, transforming it into a perfectly preserved meaty jewel. 

Before refrigeration, food preservation was key to survival. This was often achieved by drying, which allowed a single kill to last for months, providing a powerful protein punch. From the ancient Egyptians to the Native Americans, many cultures developed their own methods for drying meat. This allowed pioneers and adventurers to push ever deeper into uncharted territory. When Captain Scott set off for the South Pole he took with him pemmican – a mixture of dried meat, fat and berries. 

Curing meat is still something of a black art. The complex flavour changes that take place during the curing process is still not fully understood. Good hygiene is essential and always buy the best quality meat you can. This recipe is for venison jerky but you can use any kind of lean meat; beef, lamb or turkey, for example.

Ingredients

500g venison haunch
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp Worcester sauce
2 tbsp honey
4 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 orange zest and juice

Method

1. Pop the venison in the freezer for 45 mins to 1 hour. You don’t want to freeze it, just to firm it up slightly.

2. With a sharp knife slice the venison into thin strips.

3. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a bowl, then add the venison strips. Cover and leave overnight to marinade in the fridge.

4. Once the meat has finished marinating, preheat the oven to 80C.

5. Lay the meat on a baking rack or something that will allow the air to circulate around the meat.

6. Bake for 3-4 hours or until the meat becomes dry and chewy, then remove from the oven and allow to cool.

7. Pack into an airtight container and store in a dry, cool place ready for your next adventure.

Words by Jake and Amie, who make cured meat snacks in the Brecon Beacons; jakescuredmeats.co.uk.