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cooking very painful sauce

August 31, 2015

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There are certain critical moments in life when hot sauce is desperately needed: Fried chicken moments…fried eggs and potato moments, breaded moments, barbecue moments. Moments when you need the gastronomical equivalent of a slap around the face. I love the buzz that really, really hot sauce radiates, so I’ve put 7 scotch bonnets in mine. The effect is like drinking strong whiskey, it makes your insides dance.

My flatmate had to leave the house when I made it because her eyes hurt. The heat builds to a steady pain which you can temper with fewer scotch bonnets. This batch is for my cousin Sam, who’s been harping on about making his own for several weeks, to no avail. He’s just been offered a new job in St. Andrews. I figure it should see him through the drop in temperature.

By charring the chillies, peppers and tomatoes you add a kiss of smoke to the sauce. There should be no fire without smoke.

You’ll need:

1 white onion, peeled and chopped

3 red peppers

7 scotch bonnet chillies

4 normal red chillies

8 medium tomatoes

5 cloves garlic

2 sprigs of thyme, de-leafed and chopped (optional)

1.5 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

270ml red wine vinegar

Make it:

  1. Char the chillies, tomatoes and peppers either over a gas hob or a hot grill until the skin has pretty much blackened all over. Transfer them to a plastic bag, tie it and leave for about 15min. This steams them so their skins come off easily. Meanwhile cook the onion in olive oil and a pinch of salt for 10 mins. Cook them low so they don’t colour

  2. Take the peppers and co. out of the plastic bags and discard their skins and chop everything (keep the seeds in the chillies)

  3. Add them to the softened onion

  4. Add the sugar, salt, vinegar, garlic and thyme

  5. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30min

  6. Blitz in a food processor (you may need to add a touch of boiling water and a little more vinegar if the mixture is too thick)

  7. Pass through a fine sieve

  8. Leave to cool

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cooking recovery beans

March 29, 2015

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As much as I love a chargrilled octopus - sometimes I just need beans. Usually it’s on a Sunday. When I haven’t slept. I think of them as recovery beans.

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Making your own beans is basic. You don’t get that gluey-type substance that comes with a certain well know bean manufacturer. Depending on whether you’re too blue to chew, you can make toast ‘crumbs’. All the texture and flavour of toast, only a little easier to swallow.

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Homemade Beans (serves 4)

1 tbsp fennel seeds (toasted in a dry pan for 30 secs and pestle and mortared)

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

100g streaky bacon, diced (you can leave this out easily)

1 red onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, grated

2 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

x2 400g tins of cannellini beans or haricot beans (I used one of each), drained and rinsed

a hefty few shakes of worcester sauce

butter to finish

Make ‘em:

Fry the chopped bacon in a casserole dish for 5 mins, then add the onion and fennel seeds and cook for a further 3

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Add the garlic, chilli flakes and black pepper and cook for a further 5

Add the sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 2

Add the chopped tomatoes, and swirl out the tin with the same volume of water - add and simmer until reduce by 2/3rds

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Add the beans and slowly simmer for 20min

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Finish with a gigantic knob of butter and the worcester sauce (this is what makes it)

You can make the toast crumbs by ripping up some sourdough into chunks. Drizzle them with olive oil and salt and bake until really hard for about 20mins on 180C. Then blitz them.

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cooking black rice porridge with coconut yoghurt

February 06, 2015

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I’m a thief - I stole this idea from Ottolenghi. I first had his version at his restaurant Nopi a few years ago, and remember it looking as stylish and dramatic as porridge can possibly be.

Cooking black rice down like this transforms it into a deep purple, almost vampy colour which is seductive af.

Black Rice Porridge (serves 2)

150g venere rice

500ml almond milk

a pinch of salt

to serve:

coconut yoghurt (I used COYO)

sliced mango

Make it:

Bring the almond milk, rice and salt to a simmer, and cook on a low heat for 20 - 25 mins, stirring constantly. The rice won’t break down in the way that oats do, so expect a sweet risotto type consistency. It may angrily come to a boil, so keep an eye out.

If you haven’t been introduced to coconut yoghurt yet, well let me do the honours with the aid of this here link. Tesco and Waitrose sell it - it’s a great product whether you want to cut down on dairy or not.

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cooking spiced pumpkin pancakes

October 13, 2014

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Halloween is so very deeply American, that I feel any recipe surrounding it I feel has to be. American pancakes are my guilty pleasure. These ones, made with pureed squash or pumpkin are hellish moist and fluffy. Make sure you have these with strong filter coffee and pile ‘em high.

The fundamental rule for perfect pancakes is that your pan MUST be non-stick. Use a small one too for a good shape. Batter can always be tweaked and adjusted, but a bad pan = bad pan(cakes).

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Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes with Bacon, Maple Syrup and Pecans (make about 6 big fat ones)

250g cooked butternut squash or pumpkin. The flesh scooped out and mashed with a fork or pulsed

150g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon / a grating of nutmeg / 1 tsp of ground ginger (or use mixed spice)

1 egg

280ml whole milk

1 tbsp melted butter

To serve:

grilled streaky bacon

toasted pecans

maple syrup

Make them:

  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spice

  • Separately whisk together the pureed squash, egg, milk and melted butter

  • Beat the wet goods into the dry to form a smooth batter

  • The batter wants to be fairly thick but still a droppable consistency

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  • Heat your pan until good and hot. Spoon a ladle full into the pan and turn the heat down. The trick with these pancakes is to cook them low so they cook inside properly

  • Wait until bubbles start to appear (about 3/4 minutes)…

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… then flip and cook on the other side

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Grill your bacon and toast your pecans, then stack high and douse with maple syrup

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cooking bircher muesli

September 27, 2014

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I like croissants for breakfast. Big flakey all-butter ones. I never eat muesli. Why would you? Miserable stuff.

Bircher muesli is an exception. I think of this as summery porridge. It’s cool, creamy and fruity and somehow feels quite indulgent despite actually being something Gwyneth Paltrow might approve of.

No recipe, because it’s too easy and straightforward, I’ll just talk you through.

You just put a handful of oats in some tupperware and pour over enough apple juice to just submerge them. Leave them in the fridge overnight and in the morning they will be all plumped up and pulpy like this

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Mix them with a dollop of nice thick yoghurt, I like Total or this French stuff is very good (Waitrose).

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Mix through some fruit. I like apple matchsticks and toasted almonds. Oh and dates, but didn’t have any in when I took the photos.

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cooking fried porridge (gf)

September 12, 2014

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Having just spent a week with the fam (literally) on a tiny Hebridean island called Tiree, I thought it fitting to play around with oatmeal. My family are extreeeemely particular about porridge. It’s the only thing my dad insists on taking charge of in the kitchen.

His puritanical view is that the oats have to be pinhead, uncut. He uses water, adds a hefty pinch of sea salt and has it with a splash of cream if there’s any in the fridge. I see it as punishment porridge.

I’m more baby bear — I like mine made with milk and honey.

This recipe is inspired by an old school Scottish tradition of pouring leftover porridge into a drawer and leaving it to cool. It’s then cut up and eaten it on-the-go as the original energy bar. If you’ve read Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson) you’ll know what I’m on about.

Oatmeal was the basis of the Scottish crofters diet, makes sense — cheap and sturdy fuel for slow energy-release. I like to imagine a burly Scotsman knee deep in heather, pulling a slice from his sternum along with a hip flask of whiskey while he’s roaming the highlands.

I know this sounds kind of DISGUSTING but stay with me — I don’t use a drawer to cool the porridge. I used a baking dish, and I fry it in butter. The result is something between porridge, French toast and oaty polenta. It’s one of the most brilliant breakfast discoveries I’ve had, I’m mad for it. So much so that I’m going to list what would be excellent with it:

Raspberries and honey drizzle

Crispy bacon and maple syrup

Yoghurt and berries with a dusting of icing sugar

Caramelised apples and cinnamon

Spiced butter (cinnamon/nutmeg etc) and roasted pecans

MAKE IT!

Crispy Fried Porridge Slices (serves 4 for breakfast)

200g porridge oats

300ml whole milk (or soy if you’re that way inclined)

300ml water

pinch salt

pinch sugar

grating of fresh nutmeg (optional)

  • Method:

  • Mix the oats, water, milk, sugar and salt to a pan

  • Stir on a low heat constantly for about 15mins until thick and creamy. The more you stir, and the lower the heat, the creamier the porridge!

  • Pour the porridge into a medium sized tupperware container or an oven dish

porridge

  • Leave to cool, then refrigerate overnight

  • Turn the cooled porridge out carefully - you’ll end up with a beige solid slab of porridge. Slice it up into triangles or squares. Dusting the squares with a little flour prevents them sticking in the pan, if you don’t have a non stick one

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  • Pan fry in a little oil and butter (or can be fried without if you’re using a non-stick pan and don’t want the extra cals) for about 5 mins on each side, or until golden

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Serve with whatever you like. This one has maple syrup

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This one has been fried without oil — and has honey and cinnamon

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