Monthly Archives: December 2015

Oh Come All Ye Tasteful


Oh Come All Ye Tasteful is a newly-published Foodies’ Guide to a Millionaire’s Christmas Feast, by Ian Flitcroft.

It’s more of a Lookbook than a Cookbook and you probably won’t actually cook any of the recipes (unless you can pass the book on to your chef and tell him/her to do it) but it’s an amusing read.

You probably won’t fancy Chocolate Chrismas Redoux, Brussels sprouts covered in chocolate, which is apparently an invention of Kent farmers John and Mark Harris. But in case you do want to try it, I’ll include the recipe.

Here is a taster of what you can expect from this amazing and original book;



Toast (this is just a vehicle for the butter and other flavours, so for once good old white sliced bread is perfect)


Butter (ideally salty Welsh butter)

Absolutely NO MILK



Anchovy relish (eg, Patum Peperium) or chopped tinned anchovies

Salmon roe

Smoked salmon

White truffle (or white truffle oil if your truffle supplier let you down)

Foi gras (with flakes of salt)

Parma ham

Lemon curd

Ghost pepper (bhut jolokia) –world’s hottest chilli (or the spiciest thing you can get your hands on)

Butter the toast first and then cut 9 pointed triangles and trim an inch off the pointed end. With a small cookie cutter, cut a small round piece of toast for the central piece. Arrange the triangles around the centre piece in the manner of a roulette wheel.

Spread or place each toppng (ie, marmalade, Marmite, anchovy relish or chopped anchovies, salmon roe, smoked salmon, white truffle, foi gras, Parma ham, lemon curd) on the triangular pieces, keeping away from the edges. Keep the ghost pepper (or your chosen spicy shocker) for the central circular piece. Then quickly cover the topping with a spoonful of scrambled eggs. Sit back and enjoy the expressions on your nearest and dearest’s faces as they play scrambled egg roulette!



For the Main Event;

A fine young (big) hen turkey

About 4lb of black Perigord truffles (2kg, which should cost about £1500, whould suffice with a little left over for scrambled eggs on Boxing Day)

2lb fatty bacon

Mignionette pepper (a mixture of cracked white pepper that sometimes also includes coriander)

Grated nutmeg (Francatelli is vague about the quantities here, but elsewhere in his famous cookbook he uses the phrase ‘enough nutmeg to cover a sixpence’ so let’s go with that)

A couple of chopped bay leaves

A sprig of thyme

1 clove of garlic

½ lb fresh duck or goose

Foi gras


For the Perigueux Sauce

A bay leaf

A sprig of thyme

A small chunk of cooked ham

6-8 black truffles

2 glasses of white wine

A similar volume of veal or chicken stock

Wash your 4lb of truffles, peel and chop into walnut-sized pieces but keep the leftover bits. Place the large truffle pieces into a large casserole dish. Pound the truffle peelings with the chopped bacon using a pestle and mortar. Add this to the casserole idh along with salt, pepper, a clove of garlic, a chopped bay leaf and thyme. Pound up the foi gras separately and add to the mixture. Put on a very low heat for an hour to melt the fat and start blending the flavours together. Mr Francatelli doesn’t add any brandy to this recipe but a good dash of cognac or Armagnac added a the end of this initial cooking wouldn’t, in my opinion, go amiss. When done set aside and allow to cool.

In preparing the bird for stuffing Mr Francatelli advises breaking and removing the breast bone. I think this is to make more space for the world’s best stuffing, though it might also help the truffle flavour suffuse into the breast meat. He also assumes you are skilled at doing this. If you are not, it might be best to ask your local butcher’s assistance. At the end of the day, if that’s how Queen Victoria liked her Turkey a la Perigord, that’s good enough for me.

Open up the neck skin as far as [possible over the breast, then fill up with stuffing. To keep all the precious truffle stuffing in, close up the neck with twine and a trussing needle – there is nothing quite like using a trussing needle to make you feel like you have stepped back in time to the kitchen of one of England’s stately homes. The next most important ingredient is time for the truffle aroma to suffuse through the bird. This should be at least 24 hours. A roasting bag, a modern invention not available in Mr Francatelli’s time, is perfect for this process as it traps and intensifies the volatile elements of truffles. As an aside this process works wonderfully with uncooked eggs and steak.

For roasting, Mr Francatelli advises covering the bird with bacon and wrapping in parchment paper prior to placing on a spit over an open fire. If you are not blessed with such a kitchen, cooking the turkey in a roasting bag and conveltional oven will suffice. Your reward for cooking this fine dish will be being the only person present when you cut into the roasting bag, and are enveloped with the finest aroma known to mankind.

For the Perigueux sauce, chop the truffles finely and heat in a pan with the 2 glasses of white wine, ham, stock, a bay leaf and thyme until it boils. Bring down to a simmer and remove the ham, bay leaf and thyme. Reduce down and use as the base for making the gravy.

Serve with the best Bordeaux you can afford, and as much pomp and ceremony as you can muster.




1 medium sized white truffle.

For the first part of this dish you need only follow the instruction of Mrs Beeton.

Choose large white potatoes, as free from spots as possible; boil them in their skins in salt water until perfectly tender; drain and dry them thoroughly by the side of the fire, and peel them. Put a hot dish before the fire, rub the potatoes through a coarse sieve on to this dish; do not touch them afterwards, or the flakes will fall, and serve as hot as possible.

To turn this snow into a dish fit for an emperor you need to alternate layers of hot potato snow with grated fresh white truffle. This king of fungi is easily affected by heat and so not well suited to cooking. Shaving or grating onto hot food is considered the ideal way of serving white truffles. This provides enough heat to release all the volatile flavours without destroying them.

As well as fine champagne, rappers are also developing a taste for white truffles. New York chef Daniel Boulud has been reported as saying that P-Diddy (aka Puff Daddy/Sean Combs) requests a little more white truffle on his plate with the immortal words, ‘shave this b*tch’. Just in case any young children or mother-in-laws are listening during the preparation of this dish, I suggest you don’t follow his example.



Although coated in chocolate these morels hark back to the days of dinners in stately mansions up and down the country, when a savoury course would routinely follow dessert.

So even if you don’t live in a country mansion, there is no reason your petits fours shouldn’t be stately.

Brussels sprouts

Balls of stuffing (of the same size a the peeled sprouts)

Balls of venison sausage meat (again of the same size)

100g each of white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate

1tsp of finely grated orange zest

Small pinch of ground pepper and flaked sea salt

1tsp of truffle oil

(and 1tsp of finely chopped black truffles if possible)

2 tsp of light cooking oil

The Brussels sprouts need to have the outer layers peeled off and the stalks well trimmed. They are excellent raw, but if you prefer them slightly softer, drop them into boiling water for no more than 2-3 minutes, then cool down in cold water and dry. The sulphurous flavour of sprouts comes out more the longer they are cooked, so they still need to be very crunchy.

The sausage meat balls are simply made by cutting open the sausages and making balls by rolling the meat between your palms (cover your hands with flour first). Fry or bake the balls and then let cool. Similarly roll the stuffing into balls, bake and cool.

Melt the chocolate, one type at a time, in a bowl over barely simmering water. A teaspoon of oil helps to prevent the chocolate going granular and lumpy (‘seizing’) For the milk and white chocolate use light cooking oil, for the dark use the truffle oil. Be particularly careful not to overheat the white chocolate, it seizes at a much lower temperature than normal chocolate.

As soon as it starts to melt add the flavourings. Orange zest for the white chocolate, pepper and salt for the milk chocolate and truffle oil/truffles for the dark chocolate. Add less than you think you need and taste before adding more. Once fully molten use wooden cocktail sticks to dip the various centres into the chocolate, then place on greaseproof paper to cool and pull out the cocktail stick.

I’d suggest using the white chocolate and orange for the Brussels sprouts, the pepper/salt milk chocolate for the stuffing and the truffle dark chocolate for the venison sausages. But of course feel free to MIX and MATCH.


A bit about the author…

It was whilst studying medicine at Oxford University that Ian Flitcroft developed a fascination with all things culinary.

Ian has travelled around the world twice and sampled many of the world’s strangest foods en-route. Hi is a long term member of the Slow Foods Movement in Ireland, a collector of old culinary-related books and an avid cook and wine collector. Iain now works as a consultant eye surgeon in Dublin, where he has lived for over 10 years.


Oh Come All Ye Tasteful is published by Legend Press & costs £9.99.

Legend Times

175-185 Gray’s Inn Road




Secret Sussex Truffle Hunting!

truffle & Massimo 103 (Medium)

Truffles in Sussex? Really? I wondered as I drove to a secret destination in West Sussex.

I was meeting Melissa Waddingham who is a registered Truffle Hunter and Wild Mushroom picker.

Pulling into a car park area, I couldn’t see any sign of Melissa, so I phoned her. But it was a bad reception area, so we had to talk a couple of words at a time before we were cut off again.

Eventually I realised that I was in the wrong car park, so I drove back down the road for a few yards. And there she was, with her trained truffle dogs, Ella and Zebidee.

We set off into the woods. And Zebidee started digging at once!

Melissa pulled her off and, getting down on her knees, she sniffed the ground like a dog. Then she began digging too, and emerged out of her hole, all excited, gently brandishing a tiny white truffle. She said it was a rare type of truffle, and she placed it gently in her basket, rewarding Zebidee with a titbit.

truffle & Massimo 104 (Medium)

Recently, Melissa found an unknown species of truffle that hadn’t been seen for 200 years!

As we walked along, Melissa talked about truffle hunting and pointed out signs in the landscape.

Sussex is chalky in places, which gives the soil a high PH, which is good for truffles.

We were in a wood with a lot of beech trees. If you look up at the canopy, the root area will be the same, and there’s potential to find truffles everywhere, 360 degrees under a tree in that area.

Suddenly Zebidee started digging again, her front paws working rapidly, pausing now and then to stick her nose in the ground with her tail wagging. She was obviously having a great time.

Melissa gently nudged her aside and bent down to sniff in the hole. Then she called me over to have a sniff. I could distinctly smell a sweet, musty smell. And, success! Melissa dug out a large black truffle!

It was a bit too old to eat, and an animal had nibbled the edges. But it was an exciting find, and there would be enough traces of the truffle in the ground to produce more truffles.

truffle & Massimo 105 (Medium)

Melissa is an expert at sustainability, and she carefully covered over the hole.

It was an exciting, interesting morning, but I had to leave for another appointment.

‘Do you know the way back?’ she asked me.

Of course I did. England’s supposed to be a built-up country and I was in the woods, not far away from a main road!

Melissa pointed South and told me to go that way, so off I set.

No problem. I was heading roughly towards the sun.

But then I came to a fork in the woods. Oh dear, which way should I go?

I went left for about 10 minutes, then as the woodland got thicker, I retraced my steps and followed a more obvious track. I was bound to meet someone walking their dog or riding a horse soon! I could ask them the way.

No, I didn’t meet one person. The woods were deserted!

truffle & Massimo 106 (Medium)

Finally, I emerged at the first car park, so all I had to do was turn left and walk down the road.

But there was no sign of the other car park. What on earth was going on?

Again I retraced my steps – several times. Where was it? It should be there down the road from the other car park!

Again, I didn’t see anyone outside their house, and the few cars that passed me had no intention of stopping.

Finally, I walked up to a house and knocked on the door. The man who opened the door looked at me very strangely when I told him I’d lost my car! But then he said he’d take me there in his car, and said it was up the road.

No it isn’t, it’s down the road! I replied.

He told me we’d go up the road, then he could turn round if necessary.

We drove past the first car park (as I thought!) and there was car park no 2!

I found out that there were two identical car parks, so I’d turned left instead of right!

And there was my little car, waiting for me. Oh, the relief!

As you know, Dear Regular Readers, I am not a fan of hiking, etc.

See my Nordic Torture Walking article on our sister magazine B-C-ing-U!

As Hubby John says, I’d drive to the bathroom if I could!

And where did I go truffle hunting? Aah, that’s a secret and I’ve promised not to tell!


Melissa Waddingham is a truffle hunter and wild mushroom picker. In the spring and autumn months she runs mushroom forays, truffle hunts, talks and courses and throughout the year she provides truffle hound training days for your truffle hound to be.

She also manages woodlands for the sustainable production of truffle. For more information regarding these services, contact her.

Dates of up and coming events will be posted and group numbers are small with a maximum of ten people so Melissa does advise that you book well in advance. One to one and smaller group forays/courses are also available.

Truffle hunting is an uncommon practice here in England and the rare opportunity to have a go with a trained dog and its owner is an experience not to be missed for a great day out!